I knew this was going to happen. Another addition to the list: anchors, guns
, multi/mono, deep fryers and now WM.
I DID end up ordering the fridge from WM on line, 15% off, shipped to the store in NH (no sales tax, no shipping.) None of the other on-line vendors referenced above, and a few more I frequent, could touch the price.
I buy a lot of boat stuff. There's another local chandler I frequent because they have everything, and they're close to the boat, but their prices aren't that good. WM prices have improved a lot, at least on some things. As was pointed out, sometimes you need to have the item in hand. The option to do an easy return if you get the wrong one, or too many, is also a plus. I'm too far from Hamilton Marine to make them my #1 go-to, but when I'm near one of their stores I always bring a list. I also buy a lot, if not most, of my stuff on line.
At WM they do seem to go in for high-margin "fashion" and "designer" items. No problem for me, the people who buy those things are keeping the store open for when I need to dash in for a fitting or other inexpensive part.
Also, they noticeably reduced their inventory to keep the absolute minimum in stock. Granted, they can get most parts
in a day or two, but it's inconvenient. Especially when you're looking to buy things that only work
in pairs, like chocks, and they have just ONE of each size in stock.
Finally, I've found that their prices on electronics are generally on par with everyone else, even on line, especially if you wait for a sale. Salesmen at the store have confirmed that their margin on electronics is pretty slim.
In the end, WM is neither good nor evil. They're in a tough position as a seasonal, brick-and-mortar business. I don't agree with all the decisions they make to try to stay in business, but for my sake, I hope they succeed.
We just lost
a local hardware
store in my town. The owner tried to sell the business, but there were no takers. They rarely had bargain prices, but they were close by and always had what I needed for the house. They will be missed, even though I know everything is cheaper at the big-box home improvement stores.