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I read about it in my BoatU.S. newsletter. Now it's official; as a result of a strategic alliance, West Marine has acquired all of the BoatU.S. retail stores as well as their mail order/internet store operations.

If you remember, it wasn't too long ago that E&B Marine and West Marine became one and the same. Now BoatU.S. stores have joined the enterprise. That leaves Boater's World as the only other remaining local competition among major National boating supply chain stores.

Boater's World is owned by the same family as Ritz Camera stores. Only time will tell if the Ritz Camera family's pet project yields the long-term profits they'd hope for (I would not be surprised if the Boater's World retail enterprise were to meet the same destiny as the BoatU.S. retail operations).

The lack of competition can eventually translate into higher retail prices for boating supplies. Kmart is closing stores. Walmart, Sports Authority, and Modells have been all slowly down-sizing their stock of boating/fishing equipment to allow them to expand their selection of more mainstream/popular sports equipment (you'll find more brands of roller blades and golf shoes than waders in any of these stores).

All this might be considered good news for our mom-n-pop stores. Although I strongly support them, there is still something to be said about being able to run to a major retailer eight o'clock on a Friday night to buy the supplies needed to make last minute repairs so the boat is ready for a trip the very next morning. The ability to view and research inventory online has also been a huge plus.

I wasn't too thrilled last year to learn about West Marine's contributions towards PETA. Now that they're sucking up all of the competition I can't help but to worry about the direction our boating supply market will be heading (especially if gas prices continue to rise and our economy doesn't rebound).

Here is a link to the alliance webpage;

BoatUS & West Marine Strategic Alliance

(This post edited by DoctorFish on 03/11/2003)


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5,139 Posts

I have a Boaters World and a W/M by me.

Boaters World has it hands down over W/M.
Prices are better and usually the store is better stocked.

As a matter of fact I stopped ther yesterday and they will be closing at 12 on sunday to do inventory. Once completed they will re-stock the entire store, not that they do not have items in now.

I like B/W also because of the amount of artifical baits they stock especially itmes by Storm.

Both places hire one manager and have kids working the floor which sometime can be a job getting infromation off them, really just glorified stock people.

The B/W in Stony brook has a few people there that actually know what they are talking about.

Another place that is still a sole propriator is the Bargins Bilge in Pacthouge. There prices are just as competitive as both B/W and W/M as they have having a W/M within a half mile of them they have to be competitive.

Knowlegable people also and a great parts department with a person at the counter to talk too.

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I think Boaters World has West Marine beat on pricing on about everything in the store by about 25/30 %, especially sparks plugs, filters, etc/ The local store will price match West Marine on anything the have that is cheaper.
The nearest US Boat store is about 100 miles from here, so don't get in there often.

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4,148 Posts
Prices on "marine" merchandise are a pet peave of mine. The marine stores sometimes have flat out insulting prices on merchandise that is freely available elsewhere..

For instance, a small price to pay, but BOATUS charges 70 cents a pop for 2.5 inch 1/4-20 stainless hex head bolts.. this isn't even the "high grade" stuff.. my local hardware store charges 30 cents.

For an anchor retrieval ring - BOATUS and West Marine charge $25+.. another local shop charges $8.

Boaterworld is great for some things, they also will match prices on what is in stock; BOATUS does this too and probably will continue to for a bit. West Marine officially does not; you can show west marine a cheaper price in someone elses catolog and officially they aren't willing to budge. That's piss poor in my opinion.

Off the subject now, but the whole marine business is actually pretty sick.. to think some dealerships won't even work on your boat unless you bought it there.. and then they can charge upwards of $80 an hour for service. That's some favor. The techs don't make any more $$ than regular auto-mechanics - what gives?

Marine business's are also behind the time & afraid to change. An example - every GPS made uses some proprietary map system. We end up paying $150+ for a disk manufactured in china for .25 . No-one wants to try anything new, it'd be nice if a company like Garmin would take the initiative to release their copyright.. if Garmin charts were freely available for $25 and everyone elses cost $150, what GPS would you buy? Why they don't go the route of the computing industry, so we could upgrade storage, memory & processors etc.. All it would take is one of these companies to do so and everyone else would follow suit or die.

At a boat show recently I was picking the Fountain rep's brain about their 38 ft center console w/ triple outboards, retail for base model $175,000 (safe to say it's out of my price range for a long time). Plywood stringers coated w/ polyester resin & fiberglass.. need I say more? The boat was also built of only very cheap materials with a single coat of vinylester on the hull.. Why don't they use epoxy for the plywood.. why not build the whole hull out of vinylester?.. It would cost them an extra 10K - less profits or higher price.

Too little competition, not enough forward thinking in the industry. Supply and demand, we pay.

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