Zumiez: Tom Campion

Working as a manager for nine years at JCPenney, Tom Campion learned a critical lesson about how to succeed in retail: you have to keep close track of inventory. Tom’s experience navigating the ebb and flow of style, color, and size—all without the benefit of computers—gave him the confidence to launch his own retail business, aimed at teenagers. In 1978, he and his partner Gary Haakenson opened their first store, Above the Belt, in Seattle, and soon tapped into the hot new “action sports” category and the growing popularity of surf, skateboard, and snowboard culture. Tom placed his stores in shopping malls, and created spaces where teenagers would want to hang out, by leaning into “organized chaos” as a design principle. Today, with roughly 750 stores, Zumiez is the largest action sports retailer in the world.

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