Vendor Interview With John Koontz
West Coast Shaving
I recently had the pleasure of visiting with letterk, owner of West Coast Shaving. John was originally interviewed in 2006 and since that time his business has changed.
My original plan was to make a video interview on one of my visits to Southern California. Unfortunately, illness sidetracked my scheduling with John. Perhaps it will happen in the near future.
Q: The last time you were interviewed was back in 2006 Bob (Johnniegold) had to bribe you with Crepes. Is there anything special I can bring you this time to bribe you for your participation?
Nick promised me gourmet pizza a couple weeks ago and didn't deliver. We can start there and see what happens.
Q: The first thing I noticed from your previous interview was the launch of West Coast Shaving's website. Can you highlight some site developments that you are particularly proud of?
Wow. Since the last interview there have been some significant changes. The most recent being we switched to a new shopping cart. It's a commercial package with a huge list of features (many not turned on yet), advanced security and 24-hour premium support to make sure the site stays running smoothly. It was a painful and costly transition from the old software, but worth every penny and hour. So now we have wish lists, gift registries, reviews, etc... I feel the most significant is security for our customers. It was the #1 item on the list when I was comparison different systems. Oh, it's also a little prettier on the eyes now.
Q: If I may highlight one that has peeked my interest; your wish list. There aren't very many vendors with that option, do you see it being used or have feedback from customers about it?
It's not used as often as I thought it would be used, but those that use it love it. I think it just needs a bit of time to catch on.
Q: I'm not a user of DE's but a lot of our readers are. Have your razor brand sales shifted in popularity from 2006 to today?
Merkur still leads by far. We only had Merkur back in 2006, so it was 100%. Now we have Merkur, Edwin Jagger, Muhle, Parker, Goodfella, Feather, DR Harris, Derby...did I get them all? The competition is great for consumers as it leads to more options and better quality.
Q: Through many new product offerings WCS has had is there one that has been a favorite of yours to bring on?
Tough question. I guess my all-time favorite was the blade sampler packs, as it was something new and was the start to WCS (even if it was by accident). Since then...if I had to pick one, would probably be Simpson because I love shaving brushes so much. It's a great perk to be able to see all the different in hand before committing one to personal use.
Q: Is there a product line that you can let our readers know that will be arriving in these last few weeks in the year?
Sure thing. Keep an eye out for HeadBlade which is due to arrive soon. There will be some new WCS custom products out shortly as well. I'm particularly exciting about these. A few more in the works, but nothing I'm ready to announce.
Q: Is there an item or product line that you would like to see on your shelves?
I've got a pretty big list. T&H is up there. I'd also like to bring in some of the more esoteric items from brands we already have. Ladies items is an area of interest and we've been working on something that should be announced early next year.
Q: I've noticed that WCS has began to sell straight edge razors. Is this is market that you plan on investing more time into?
I'd love to see us expand our straight razor selection and accessories. A number of Feather AC razors were added lately, but now I need to focus on traditional straights. I hope to have an announcement early next year regarding this. You should also see more Dovo razors on the site in the next few months. Strops, hones, etc... all coming. Because really, what is a shaving shop without a decent straight selection!
Q: Some of our readers may not know but WCS moved into a new office. Is this a plan to open a store front for walk-in traffic?
Yes, we moved out of the house early 2010. Too many people coming and going, too many deliveries. It was time to separate the home life and the WCS life. And we really wanted to have a walk-in store. We opened our door to walk-ins this summer, but not many know that. It seems this is catching on though, because we're having a lot more lately. Christine has big plans for the front. I'll post some photos once the new display cases are in.
Q: During your last interview you gave our readers some insight on what razors sell the most. Are there a few items off the top of your head that sell the most outside of razors?
Sorry, this isn't going to be a very exciting answer. I'd love to tell you something odd like, Lothantique outsells Taylors, but you can probably guess that's not the case. (Although, I do think Lothantique shaving soap is great.) The big names all sell the most.
Q: In my visit last visit I had the absolute pleasure of meeting your lovely wife Christine. Is she enjoying the growth of WCS?
Oh absolutely. She loves it as much as I do. There are days where it seems too busy, but it's always fun. She loves helping customers and she gets almost as excited as me when a new product arrives. And she really likes being her own boss and the ability to work and still be a stay-at-home mom.
Q: As with every interview, what is your favorite set up? Has it changed from 2006?
I can't say I remember what I was using back in 2006, but today my favorite is a Merkur Futur, Simpson E3 2-Band, soap (don't try to make me pick one) and Alt Innsbruck splash or Gentlemens Refinery balm depending on the weather.
John, thank you for your time and participation with the interview.
Thanks for the interview! Now where is that pizza?