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Old 03-06-2016, 08:01 PM   #1
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Toilet seat for NASA

Just a minor gripe. Went to the BIG marine store and grabbed a replacement toilet seat, not paying attention to the price. Clerk said $64 . I put it back. I mean really? You wonder why boating industry is doing poorly. It's just a molded seat. It has to survive in a harsh environment, but it's just as harsh at home.
Needless to say obtained a Bemis marine seat on Amazon for $15 delivered.
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:28 AM   #2
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Yep. Shopping for a little oil pressure gauge sending unit for a Marine Power 454. If I use a marine supplier, $72. After some detailed research and cross-referencing, if I buy exactly - I mean exactly - the same unit from an auto supplier, $28. Welcome to boating.
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Old 03-07-2016, 08:25 AM   #3
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One thing I've noticed recently is that West Marine seems to be frequently charging MORE than list price for products. There have been a number of times where I looked at both their web price and the manufacturer's web page and the MSRP is actually less than West Marine's web price. All the more reason to shop elsewhere.
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Old 03-07-2016, 05:31 PM   #4
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Last year I went to WM to buy a depth sounder for the CC. They didn't stock it 3-5 days delivery.
Went home and ordered it from Amazon had it the next day for $15 cheaper. It's hard to believe they're still in business.
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Old 03-07-2016, 05:37 PM   #5
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One thing I've noticed recently is that West Marine seems to be frequently charging MORE than list price for products. There have been a number of times where I looked at both their web price and the manufacturer's web page and the MSRP is actually less than West Marine's web price. All the more reason to shop elsewhere.
I have noticed this also. Selling for more than list price (except in remote areas) seems unfair and unethical but sometimes it's easier to just pay the price and get on with the project.

I wonder what they would do if a customer asked for the manager and showed him/her the manufacturer's website and retail price?
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Old 03-07-2016, 07:55 PM   #6
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It's WM's business model; either accept it or buy elsewhere.

Go through security at the airport. Then go buy a bottle of water at the convenience store. For the price of two bottles, you can buy a case of water at the supermarket. They've got you if you're an avid water drinker (I am), and they know it! I just can't do it. So I bring an empty water bottle with me through security and then fill it at the water fountain on the other side.

All that being said, every so often you need something now, and WM has it. You just have to decide how bad you want to go play on the water, today. As my buddy would put it, "They think an awful lot of what they sell".

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Old 03-07-2016, 08:33 PM   #7
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When I was outfitting my boat in Anacortes before bringing it North, I shopped WM due to lack of transportation to go anywhere else. They were terrible, and I complained. Little things were put so high on the shelves you couldn't see what were in them or read sizes, and all of my favorite name brand products had been replaced with WM brand crap that wasn't nearly the quality of the items they replaced on the shelves. Money grubbing profiteering... I told them as much! They did have most of what I needed, but I shopped in my boatyard supply store for everything I could get before making the trip into town to save a few dollars.

Unfortunately my grocery store seems to have the same business plan... I love my name brand products, hate the "store" brands!
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Old 03-07-2016, 09:44 PM   #8
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You know I understand the premium pricing to the need-it-now shoppers, just like paying $900 for a dry crummy sandwich at an airport as mentioned above. I'm really surprised though that there are enough of those shoppers to keep WM in business. Are there enough of them to keep WM going? I mean look at that airport meal example - as a practical matter we're trapped at the airport so we pay those prices. Magically transport one of those Chicago hotdog lunch places from the ORD airport concourse to any other place on the city and most people would burst out laughing at $12 for a hot dog and a Coke. The business would die in five minutes. WM on the other hand seems to be doing just fine nationwide. I don't get it.

Sure, I've blown hundreds at WM in a pinch, but under all other normal circumstances I'd never buy there. I'm surprised a big chain like that can live on customers who need it now, or don't care about the price.
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Old 03-08-2016, 06:53 AM   #9
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"One thing I've noticed recently is that West Marine seems to be frequently charging MORE than list price for products."

This has been Worst Marine policy for a very long time.

The BS is to get a "Port Marine" account and enjoy paying LIST price!

WM is the shop of last resort , need a part , pay 25% more because its THERE!
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Old 03-08-2016, 08:19 AM   #10
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I believe that they actually closed their Canadian locations this past year.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:20 AM   #11
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WM on the other hand seems to be doing just fine nationwide. I don't get it.

Sure, I've blown hundreds at WM in a pinch, but under all other normal circumstances I'd never buy there. I'm surprised a big chain like that can live on customers who need it now, or don't care about the price.
I'm not convinced WM *can* survive. I see prices going up to compensate for less sales. I can only relay what I see in South Florida, but the staff is incompetent and the stores have less buyers roaming the isles than 8 years ago.

Personally, I use my Amazon Prime account for 95% of the stuff I need. Amazon is doing to WM what they did to Borders Books. Or what Netflix did to Blockbuster Video.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:29 AM   #12
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Just out of principle I always try to shop at a local business if I can. Online second and a national chain as a last resort.
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Old 03-08-2016, 01:50 PM   #13
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I can't believe I'm saying this, but I've actually found some reasonable prices at WM from time to time. As some of you are painfully aware, I'm shopping for an autopilot.

Just for grins, I went on the WM web site to see what they had to offer.

Exact same price as Defender. Plus, no shipping and no tax if I pick it up at a NH location.

Also, good information about the product, and a long article about APs that I wish I had read before I started all this. It explained a lot of the jargon and some of the key points in designing a system.

Earlier, I'd actually called Defender. Their first question was what brand was I looking at. All they could do was look up and read back to me what was in the manufacturer's documentation. They said they weren't allowed to give any advice beyond that.

Our local WMs, and a few others I've been in, employees some retirees, live-aboards and other boaters, along with the their share of the typical know-nothing retail staff. On a good day, you can actually get some sound advice.

Now, before you write me off as totally crazy, I'm no big fan. I hate the way they've moved away from marine parts and components and into high-margin "fashion" items. I think they're foolish to cut inventory to the point where things you buy in pairs, like chocks, are stocked in quantities of one. And if you ask, they'll offer to ship in the second part from some remote warehouse in a week or so. I could go on and on.

But, when it comes to low-margin, big-ticket items like electronics, you can sometimes do OK there.

One last thing; for the record, WM doesn't manufacture anything. Chances are your "name brand" item was made in the same factory. Even if not, it's a reasonable way for them to try to keep prices low(er) in an economy that's really tough on brick-and-mortar operations. I have no problem with quality no-name products. The key being quality.
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Old 03-08-2016, 02:08 PM   #14
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Check out Hodges Marine. It is online only, but that is probably going to be where WM winds up too. My electronics package including autopilot and G-3 radar with broadband sonar saved me about 30%, and the Mustang HIT inflatable pfd's I got this year were about 50% less than list. They are my "go to" for items they carry, with free shipping in the lower 48 states.

I am flying out of state this month and carrying the stuff I ordered back as checked baggage, saving a ton on shipping (because of the CO2 cartridges in the life vests...)

I am well aware WM manufactures nothing, but the brand name items that made the catalog desirable are disappearing and not available in the stores at all. What replaced them is inferior...
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Old 03-08-2016, 03:59 PM   #15
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I can't believe I'm saying this, but I've actually found some reasonable prices at WM from time to time.............
That has been my experience as well. Besides that, you are paying for convenience and service. I bought an electric inflator for a dinghy a couple years ago and it failed while I was away from home cruising. I didn't have my receipt with me on the boat but I was able to walk from a marina with it to a WM and the manager looked up my purchase and gave me a new replacement. If I had bought the product off amazon. com, I would have had to pay to ship it back and try to figure out where I could have a replacement shipped to.

If you need to touch and feel a product or measure it to see if it will fit, WM shines again. Since Boaters World went out of business, WM is pretty much the only game in town for me.
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Old 03-08-2016, 04:36 PM   #16
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For electronics like an autopilot, I'd second the recommendation for Hodges Marine. I've almost always found them to be the lowest cost and best availability. Just bought an MFD, transducer, VHF, and radar from them for our Grady. I like Defender a lot and buy a lot of stuff from them, but they are usually not the best when it comes to electronics.
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Old 03-08-2016, 07:05 PM   #17
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They've had two initiatives. One is to increase online sales. The other is to increase the percentage of sales in the non-traditional segment, what they call Merchandise Expansion Products.

In the last 12 months, their stock has definitely not done well. It was around $10.50 a year ago, now at $8.99.

The last available annual reports are those for the year Ending December 31, 2014. Revenues were up slightly to $678 million. Income was down from $7.8 million to just under $2 million.

Their earnings release for 2015 indicates revenues of $705 million and income of $4.5 million. That was $0.18 per share, so about a 2% return on share price. 0.6% profit as a percent of sales.

They expect to improve profit by over 50% in 2016 on a minimal sales growth based on "continued expense control."

Opinion: You don't cut your way to success. It's the easy way to appease shareholders and make them think you're doing something. However, they have a very clear fundamental problem. Compare them to a Cabela's or Bass Pro or Camping World store. They've got cash ($48 million). They've got no debt, just normal payables. The Shareholders' Equity is $299 million. They're not in any danger of bankruptcy or going out of business. However, I don't see the plan for the future either.

They've taken a couple of initiatives and that has kept them from declining. However, the much harder part is figuring out what they should look like going forward. Is it to have predominately their standard store or to build up their flagship stores and reduce the standard, to go the superstore route at the expense of the convenience route?

I don't know enough about them to answer those questions but they are ones they'll continue to deal with. Still, they'll have to make slow, gradual moves not drastic ones as making the wrong major move can cause severe harm and turn profits into losses, cash into need.
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Old 03-08-2016, 08:00 PM   #18
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I believe that they actually closed their Canadian locations this past year.
Their brilliant marketing people had each of the Canadian Great Lakes stores with an entire department of salt water fishing gear ! ..... maybe nobody told them.
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:43 AM   #19
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"They said they weren't allowed to give any advice beyond that. (Defender)"

That is a good idea as many of the gals answering the phone have never been on board a boat!
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