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Old 24-06-2021, 05:21   #1
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West Marine

How does West Marine stay in business, price gouging? I am listing my boat for sale, after 22 years of ownership, and decided to buff the 30+ year old Awlgrip. I needed 3M Finesse-it II. The local ship's store didn't have it. Went to WM, a pint was $56. I needed it that moment, knew WM would be more, but not 20% over msr. Just checked Defender, $24, suggested retail was $46. The shelves were less than half filled, the couple of employess were just lounging, and certainly did not seem to be at all boat literate. I started dealing with WM when their cataloge was a couple page mailout. Good prices, and good service. Now it is a place to avoid unless desperate.

Local store is usually 5-10% off retail, and can get most items overnight from their supplier. My fault for not planning ahead.

The Finesse-it really brought a nice shine back to the Awlgrip, followed by Awlcare, and looks quite good.

Anyone interested in a Bristol 41.1 in the Connecticut area? Listing it tomorrow.
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Old 24-06-2021, 05:51   #2
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Re: West Marine

It's partly a supply chain problem due to Covid. If they have Awlgrip of any sort where you are, you're lucky.

We can't find any here in Toronto...
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Old 24-06-2021, 06:11   #3
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Re: West Marine

I think part of the draw is that you can get the stuff on the spot. They do price match too...
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Old 24-06-2021, 06:12   #4
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Re: West Marine

West really does walk a very fine line between the whole “we’re brick and mortar AND offer advice so it’s worth more” model and the ever-present threat of impending irrelevance in the style of Circuit City.

I have always been a West Marine customer (as virtually all US boaters have been), but when I went in last time I could not justify purchasing a single item on my list from them. And I am by no means a thrifty person.

I am installing a second air conditioner and am adding a second 30amp ac power system, so I needed everything from the power receptical to the cables, terminals, ac panel, hoses for plumbing the thing.... the works. This was easily a 40 item deal. I would find each item on the shelf, then pull it up on line (and I mean the identical item: marine-grade, Perko, etc) in every single instance the difference was more than I could justify- even after accepting the brick and mortar excuse. The differences usually began at 20% and in some cases were literally 100% more than other sources.

On the way out the door, a $50 two-part teak cleaner caught my eye. Disappointed I was unable to get even a single item on my list, I was open to the impulse buy. A quick sanity check online... same product all over the internet for $20.

And the price match deal... why is the burden on me to convince them they’ve priced their item above market value? While it sounds like a good business practice on the surface, it’s actually a bit predatory. The 5% of customers who do the extra work needed to get fair market value from them are good to go, but they’ll happily overcharge the remaining 95%.

So there’s charging more for “customer service” and “bricks” but this shop is skirting a fine line in my opinion. I don’t say any of this because I want to shill for online retailers- I’d love nothing more than to buy from West. I go in probably monthly just to see what’s new. But it’s getting harder and harder to justify. Just like it became harder and harder to justify riding a taxi from the airport on a business trip when Uber came along.
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Old 24-06-2021, 06:14   #5
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Re: West Marine

Quote:
Originally Posted by keepondancin View Post
How does West Marine stay in business, price gouging? I am listing my boat for sale, after 22 years of ownership, and decided to buff the 30+ year old Awlgrip. I needed 3M Finesse-it II. The local ship's store didn't have it. Went to WM, a pint was $56. I needed it that moment, knew WM would be more, but not 20% over msr. Just checked Defender, $24, suggested retail was $46.
A quick search shows prices all over the map for that polish. There are different stocking habits; some resellers are very good at finding (or demanding) discounts, dealing in volume, finding distributors anxious to shift some overstock or near-expired product. And some resellers will offer a consumable like polish as a loss-leader, to attract business. Or all of the above. Defender might even be deliberately taking a run at WM and other marine stores to grab more market share.

There's also a price for convenience- I fully expect that if I walk into a nearby store and grab something off a shelf, I will be paying a premium over doing an internet search, ordering, and waiting.
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Old 24-06-2021, 06:34   #6
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Re: West Marine

If I am in a pinch, other stores such as automotive suppliers carry the 3M stuff, for much cheaper, and there are more of them around than WM anyways...I know hindsight is 20/20.
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Old 24-06-2021, 07:54   #7
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Re: West Marine

I agree with S/V Siren - auto parts stores often have what is needed for better price. And on Defender... while their price may be lower than WM, their shipping costs often undo that advantage. I am just starting to ask WM to match the price I can find online or elsewhere.
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Old 24-06-2021, 08:16   #8
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Re: West Marine

West Marine price matches.

If you read the West Marine policy you could have shown them the Defender price and they would have matched it. You might want to do a little research before taking to social media as a 'social justice warrior' attempting to publicly shame people or businesses despite failing to do you own due diligence.
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Old 24-06-2021, 08:26   #9
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Re: West Marine

Apparently, it's time for the semi-annual bash WM contest. The good news is that so many people seem to have nothing important to complain about.
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Old 24-06-2021, 08:34   #10
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Re: West Marine

We’ve filled ~10 pages with of debate on yachting hats, the cruise ship one ran its course, I’m not sure if the footware debate went anywhere, and there’s only so much bashing we can do of YouTube videographers, so sights are now trained on the marine industry’s version of Circuit City.

I’m not sure terms like “social justice warriors” apply in this context, but I freely admit everyone still seems to be seething as they come off the battlefield of the various covid threads.

This topic may be a weak one, WM’s fate is probably already vouchsafed, and the debate carries the scars of one that has been very well worn, but we CAN still make this a fertile sparring ground. For those aboard the HMS Sanctimony, sharpen your “social justice warrior” cutlasses:
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Old 24-06-2021, 08:45   #11
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Re: West Marine

I recently needed an open jaw Bimini fitting, so I trotted into my local WM store, (not very hopefully), and low and behold they actually had one! for $15.00, so I grabbed it. The checkout fellow said “$49.99 please, plus tax.”
“What!”, exclaims I. It turns out it was on the wrong hook, so I left empty-handed - again.
I found the exact same product on Amazon, two in a pack for $20.00 including free shipping and it arrived two days later. That’s five times less than the WM price!
Oh! and while I was arguing their error, some sucker bought a battery for $150 which he could have bought for less than $50 for AutoZone up the road.
That’s how they stay in business.
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Old 24-06-2021, 09:14   #12
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Re: West Marine

I have to add my 2c.....I go to West Marine, only when I have exhausted all my other options.
Interestingly, you can go on Amazon and find a lot of marine hardware, same as sold by WM, for substantially less.
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Old 24-06-2021, 09:45   #13
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Re: West Marine

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Originally Posted by MicHughV View Post
I have to add my 2c.....I go to West Marine, only when I have exhausted all my other options.
Interestingly, you can go on Amazon and find a lot of marine hardware, same as sold by WM, for substantially less.
In the same way that taxis lost a staggering amount of market share to Uber, brick and mortar retail is working to process its way through a disruptive shift in how technology has enabled transactions.

Amazon is out-innovating at every single turn: from fluid/dynamic pricing, revolutionizing the entire retail supply chain (stockage levels, regional distribution, warehousing, product delivery- to the point where same-day is now becoming more common, easing the customer burden for returns, etc). They have long ago achieved parity in many aspects of the customer experience with brick and mortar retail, and are now out-innovating in ways that will end up making online purchasing the easier option across the board.

DO NOT READ THIS AS ME ENDORSING ONE OVER THE OTHER. I would MUCH rather drive down and have the opportunity to handle or try on something before buying. And there lies the niche that brick and mortar will occupy in our distopian future.

West Marine’s survival probably hinges on their Port Supply (commercial) business more than anything else, and they will probably reallocate product types in their physical locations to meet our (retail) desires. Evidence of this in my area- WMs have done a re-design and allocated a LOT more floor space to apparel and audio equipment at the expense of floor space for equipment and supplies. That tells me we ALL have observed what is being shared in this thread and are now relying on alternatives for those products en masse. They are evolving, and that evolution is driven by how we collectively spend on their stores.
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Old 24-06-2021, 09:49   #14
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Re: West Marine

Here is cent 3 and 4. I have been in and out of West Marine Stores for 40+ years, and there has always been one commonality of each visit. I always, always, always ....leave angry. One example tells the whole story which has not changed. I recently needed a water pump for a deck wash I was making...(Thank you Cruising World). After pricing several places on-line, including Amazon,.....all of which were within 10% of one another...I purchased the pump for $155. West Marine's price??? $299.

A brick and mortar store has to make a profit...no argument from me on that. But West Marine's buying power should make up some of the cost difference. And, the "they will meet everyone's prices argument carries no weight. I shouldn't have to do that every time I go in the store.

ok...through ranting...lol
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Old 24-06-2021, 10:02   #15
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Re: West Marine

As Creedence mentioned, Amazon has always been ahead of the pack, and COVID has driven some significant improvements in, and acceptance of online retail. There's also been some fundamental unfairness as the big online retailers have managed to avoid much of the overhead, including local and other taxes, that a brick-and-mortar store must endure.

One other factor... boaters are annoying customers. They'll come into a store, pick the staff's brains for 20 min, handle product, then leave to order it from Defender or Amazon. And then complain online about the store

So, if the big online sellers manage to drive many harbourside chandleries out of business... where will product advice come from? CF?
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