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Old 04-05-2015, 18:22   #211
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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You need to go to the Woburn store
100+ mile round trip..to pay 20-40% more than defender, et al.... ah no.
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Old 04-05-2015, 18:41   #212
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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You need to go to the Woburn store


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Woburn one seems to be OK still last I was there, but we'll see how long that lasts. I actually turned down a job offer at the Watsonville corporate office last year. Primarily because of the terms (they were seriously in denial about the cost of living in CA), but also because of the "pivot towards lifestyle" corporate speak. I mean there I was, excited to work for a boating company, and all they can talk about is getting out of the long-tail boating market and sell clothing and sunglasses instead. Really bummed me out at the time, but I suppose online shopping is driving them in that direction for the brick&mortar stores at least.
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Old 04-05-2015, 19:58   #213
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

I realize that in some of the posts I have done on this thread have not exactly been flattering toward WM, but I do have to say there is a lot of good about the company too. I've been with the company for going on 8 years now, at 3 stores in two States, and they always had a spot for me. In that time I have also worked with some very hard working, dedicated Associates and Management people who always tried to do their very best for every customer they served.

Being in the stores, I can tell you that, while some of their prices seem high, WM does lose a lot of money on things like returns. Their extremely liberal return policy dictates that the stores will pretty much take back any product, regardless of age, and regardless of condition or reason for the return. They take back things that most other businesses would laugh at, like broken in half fishing rods, half used cleaning supplies, and hundreds of other items where the customer obviously damaged or abused it. Most of it goes into the dumpster because our suppliers would not take back those items as they were not responsible for any manufacturing defect.

On the downside, WM runs their stores very thin when it comes to staffing it's stores. When you get only two or 3 employees working during an 11 or 12 hour workday, there is only so much you can do to give proper attention to each and every customer. Yet, when the customer fills out the survey on their receipt and says that there was no one available in the store to help them, Corporate interprets that as US not doing OUR job, as opposed to the customer saying the stores need more employees to take care of the customers properly.

WM expects a lot out of their store employees for very little pay. A lot of employees are just slightly over minimum wage, and even the Management people are not making a whole lot. Yet, employees are expected to do 1,000 tasks every day, with limited time, and to also work with each customer to make sure they buy every item they possibly can buy, and to also try to sell as many memberships, towing packages, and plus plans (extended warranties on products) as they can. All of that, and each employee has to wear multiple hats, working in every area from plumbing, to electrical, to maintenance, to electronics, etc, etc. And do not even think about getting hurt on the job because their Workman's Comp insurer, Travelers Insurance, looks for every excuse to deny the claim or to drag their feet on getting the employee's medical bills paid.

Now, with the new emphasis on each employee expected to be well versed on all the new lifestyle products, like paddleboards, Kayaks, and clothing, it really is asking a lot out of people who make not a lot more than the guy flipping burgers at McDonalds. But that is retail, and most of us understand that when we sign up. It would just be nice to be appreciated for all of that hard work, instead of being constantly told we need to improve and do even more. Humans can only do so much, regardless of what their bosses think.
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Old 04-05-2015, 20:10   #214
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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You need to go to the Woburn store


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Very spotty bolts and nuts section. Last year on some trips found everything I needed. Another trip a month later they did not have 70% of the stuff they had a month before. So I switched to boltdepot which had everything in stock at 3/4 of the WM prices.
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Old 04-05-2015, 20:49   #215
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Is WM now more interested in catering to the Millennials who are better equipped to deal with a SUP and branded shirts than a bilge pump? This is sort of a measure of how the retail industry in the US heading.

WM will eventually go down harder than Radio Shack.
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Old 04-05-2015, 21:09   #216
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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Is WM now more interested in catering to the Millennials who are better equipped to deal with a SUP and branded shirts than a bilge pump? This is sort of a measure of how the retail industry in the US heading.

WM will eventually go down harder than Radio Shack.
Probably will morph into another big box retailer. And then go under. Good riddance.
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Old 04-05-2015, 21:23   #217
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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Probably will morph into another big box retailer. And then go under. Good riddance.

Sadly, you guys might be right. Just today I had a lady I was helping and every item she needed was out of stock on the shelf. Finally, she said to me "You are a really nice guy and have always been helpful, but this store never has anything I need when I come in, so I won't be back !" I get that response way too often, and if too many people start avoiding us, that can't be healthy.

Don't know what the solution is, but I can't see this new direction as helping the boating end much.
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Old 04-05-2015, 21:26   #218
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

I could print out this entire thread an mail it to the new CEO. Like he'd ever bloody read it...
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Old 04-05-2015, 21:33   #219
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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I could print out this entire thread an mail it to the new CEO. Like he'd ever bloody read it...
Believe me they know. All they care about - golden parachutes, stock options and retirement plans. And "apres moi et deluge". This is not just WM, this is America in the 21st century. ((
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Old 04-05-2015, 21:48   #220
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Yep, I think Matt's salary is something like $1.2 million a year, and the average store employee makes less than $10 an hour. Try to support a family on that kind of money and then they wonder why there is so much turnover. The benefits are not all that great either.

One problem is that lower level managers, even at the District and Regional level, do not make waves for fear of killing their careers. The people who advance and keep their jobs are the ones who keep a low profile and basically act like cheerleaders whenever some program is put into place. People who try to suggest that there might be some problems don't last very long, once they open their mouth.

But that seems to be the way a lot of businesses are operated these days, especially since the downturn in the economy. People are just happy to have a job and businesses are exploiting that to the fullest.
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Old 04-05-2015, 21:54   #221
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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....... and businesses are exploiting that to the fullest.
Gee, where have you been since Citizens United? Corporations are people, my friend.

Guess we just have to live with the fact that the CEOs and the other grubbers are just plain folks, too.
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Old 04-05-2015, 22:01   #222
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

It is sad to see WM go the way it is headed. Unfortunately for WM, the "Lifestyle" market is populated with way too many companies with way more resources than WM. If I want a Columbia jacket, I can go to Macy's Nordstrom, Penney's, REI, Columbia's own store and about 32 other stores. What does WM offer to entice me to go there? Yes, inventory may turn more quickly, but "Lifestyle" inventory changes about every 4 months. Thus, the inventory cost is not only the carrying cost, but also the disposition cost of unsold inventory, almost always at a loss. This is a tight, hard mark in which to be profitable.

There is no excuse in today's software world to not have highly effective and efficient inventory and Customer Relations systems. there are systems from SAP, Micrsoft, Oracle and others that are virtually off-the-shelf systems. Walmart was mentioned, but if you want efficiency, look at COSTCO. I have had client who sell to both and everyone would rather deal with COSTCO. If you are a vendor, you buy into their inventory/ordering system. The entire process is automated. They do tell you how much "inventory shrinkage" they will take (usually around 3-5%) and what purchase discounts they will allow (5% 15 days is common). Once you are an approved vendor, all ordering is done at the store level and generally by their system with human review. The upside is that on the 15th day, your bank gets a finds transfer with your full payment. Plus, they pay their employees a very good wage with good benefits unlike Walmart.

For WM, I would argue that they should in fact focus harder on the marine market. Tight ordering systems, good inventory control and happy, knowledgeable employees go a long way in making a company successful. Unlike Seattle where we have Fisheries Supply catering to the huge commercial market and thus carrying everything ever built or made for a boat, most markets do not have this and the chandlery market tends to be small, single store operations (apologies to HopCar!). With good management and systems WM should be able to compete in such a market. Convenience still carries a lot of weight with the customer. If they want to really get into online sales in a bigger way, don't so it yourself, go to Amazon, who, many people do not realize, manages inventory, sales and fulfillment for several quite large retailers under the retailers' own brand. You never know Amazon is involved at all.

Sorry for the rant, just hate to see WM go the way of Eddie Bauer, bought and sold every 2-3 years and in constant financial difficulty.
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Old 04-05-2015, 22:30   #223
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Jaycall brings up a very good, valid point about how lifestyle items (especially clothing articles) tend to go in and out in a very short period of time. We might make a big profit on clothing, compared to something like a GPS, but we also blow out our out of season or unsold clothing at way less than cost many times, and it happens all the time. We have a huge section of discounted clothing in our store, and that is the rack people tend to head for.

In addition, I mentioned earlier that kayak and paddleboard customers are pretty much a one time sale. Whereas, boats break parts and you are constantly replacing them, once a lifestyle craft goes out the door that is it. That customer will not need parts, or TowBoat US towing insurance, so those markets have to shrink.

West Marine also wants the stores to continue to push their other cash cow, the membership at $24 a year, but where boaters might see benefit in joining, the lifestyle customer will probably not. We are already seeing this when we check out a customer at the register. Most of the lifestyle buyers shake their heads "no" when we ask if they would like to join. There really is no incentive for them to do it in their minds.
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Old 05-05-2015, 10:14   #224
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

Seeing real flesh & blood West Marine employees post their honest views is a salve to feelings I have borne against the company for many years. What's really interesting is how little difference there is between what people are saying today and what I experienced long ago as an employee with West.

No surprise at all the company is struggling. It's all about business ethics, morals and neglect of it's most valuable asset - people.
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Old 05-05-2015, 10:30   #225
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Re: West Marine changing strategies: likely de-emphasising sailing related support

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Seeing real flesh & blood West Marine employees post their honest views is a salve to feelings I have borne against the company for many years. What's really interesting is how little difference there is between what people are saying today and what I experienced long ago as an employee with West.

No surprise at all the company is struggling. It's all about business ethics, morals and neglect of it's most valuable asset - people.
and it's own customers.
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