I have written before about the value of Zumiez’s hiring, training, and promotion process. They take kids with a passion for the activities and brands their stores sell, train them, support them, make them compete with their peers, and promote the ones who succeed. The average age of store managers is something like 23 and pretty much all their district and regional managers started out as sales people in a store.
It is true that a deeply imbedded, successful culture can be destructive to a company if the culture resists evolving with the competitive and economic environment. I can’t say for certain that Zumiez (or any other company) won’t someday have that problem. But Zumiez can minimize that potential by just letting the young sales force that is part of its target demographic drive brand selection and be the arbiter of what’s “cool.” If they do that I think this competitive advantage can continue to be sustainable. That’s a hell of thing and unusual in our industry.