The coronavirus crisis has severely impacted our pre-season preparations. Many of us have been completely cut off from access to our boats and therefore many planned projects and upgrades have not taken place. As the marinas
start to open up, launch preparations are often accelerated and the six- to eight-week prep window has been shrunk to perhaps 2 weeks. Our natural response is to decide that any projects which are not 100% necessary for launch can be put off till next winter, or spring.
Please take a moment to think about that. Many local, independent chandleries are completely dependent on the spring prep season to cover their costs for the year. Without the purchases required for those projects, a good number of them will see this spring as the final nail in their coffins and go out of business. The big boys will survive, the West Marines and Defender.com, but the independents are frequently hanging on by their fingernails. Do you really want to be left with no supplier but mail-order? No place to go when you quickly need a block or a few bolts? Another can of bottom paint
because one of yours got knocked over? If too many of the independents go out of business, then the distributors who supply them will also go out of business. Who then will provide price
competition for the big boys?
In my local community, we have 3 harbors. We used to have 2 independent chandleries, before West Marine
came to town. Then it was reduced to one independent. West Marine
could not manage to fuel
their overheads and survive, so they eventually shut down too and left us with just that one chandlery
. The Great Lakes
high-water issues of the past few years have decimated his business, as people could not work
on their boats when the yards were flooded. At the end of last year he contemplated closing his doors, but decided to give it one more try. However, he has had essentially no business for the past two months. In the cities next to ours, the number of chandleries is going to be reduced by somewhere between 33% and 50% over the next two years, thanks to the financial incentives of urban renewal and condominium building. If our local guy does not soon get a big boost in business then our local boating
community will be left with damn few places to shop and none of them will be convenient.
So, embrace the projects! Renew and upgrade your boat! Your cruising options are likely to be limited anyways for this season, so seize the opportunity to tackle all those projects which you have been intending to get to. Give the business to your local chandlery
, even if it does cost you a couple more bucks than buying
on-line would have. Keep them alive, because in the years to come you are going to need them.