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In on the Action Meet the new entrants to the action-sports retail market.

By April Y. Pennington

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Weaving around industry giants with slick booths, bikini modelsand other attractions at the Action Sports Retail Trade Expo inJanuary, I found some smaller, up-and-coming companies withpromise. These three businesses don't rule the retail marketjust yet, but they share the roots of many action-sports heavyhitters: small operations and big dreams.

  • Day in the sun: After surfer DrewLittlemore got sunburned so badly that his face turned purple, heand brother Douglas, 41, sought a solution. Both had previouslyused regular sunblock, but found nothing marketed specifically tosurfers. Drew, 38, says their Headhuntersurfscreen is perfect for intense wave riders and prolonged sunexposure. Within three months of the company's 1996 launch, itsoriginal SPF 30 formula was in 150 surf shops. Now in 900 U.S.specialty stores--including sporting goods stores and mallboutiques--and with distribution in several countries popular amongsurfers, La Jolla, California-based Headhunter projects 2006 salesof nearly $1 million. Expanding beyond sunscreen, Headhunter ismoving into men's personal care with cologne, deodorant andmore, hoping for high-end department store interest.
  • Ride in hand: In an era when trendy bagbusinesses are almost cliché, New York City-based Beck(y) blazed a newpath in 2003, turning recycled skateboards into unique bags andaccessories. Customers who purchase new boards often leave theirold boards behind; supportive skate shops keep them for BeckHickey, who pays only shipping costs and donates $3 for each boardto charity. Then she creates one-of-a-kind "Sk8bags.""People like the textures and hand-painted colors, sothere's appeal on the aesthetic alone. Once they discoverit's a skateboard, there's another level ofappreciation," says Hickey, 35, who just debuted an iPod caseand gym bag. Beck(y) bags are carried by 30 U.S. action sportsshops and boutiques, and 2006 sales are projected at less than $1million. With distribution in Australia, Brazil and Europe, Hickeyplans to expand to Canada and Japan. She's also developing aline of traditional fashion accessories, but her creative vibe willundoubtedly keep on rolling.
  • Grown-up gear: Skater boys eventually growup. They might still thrash, but Scot Shandalove knows they andtheir tastes have matured. Strand Manufacturing, his Hermosa Beach,California-based clothing company, melds the action-sportslifestyle with higher-fashion aesthetics. "It's a wittier,smarter type of brand," says Shandalove, 35. Strand usesdetailed designs and appliques mixed with flocking andembellishments, making for visually appealing combinations. Sold in60 high-end boutiques and skate shops, Strand is also distributedinternationally and should approach the $500,000 mark in 2006sales. A women's line debuting in spring 2007 will initiallyfocus on tops. A men's collection is already available for guysjust like Shandalove: "I still roll around on my skateboarddaily, but I don't want to be wearing the same tee as the[teenager] down the street."

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