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Old 03-20-2022, 06:48 PM   #1
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EXAMPLE: Defender vs West Marine. Whats up???

I was short four 3/8" ball valves and 20-feet of fuel hose for a fuel system rebuild. I thought "What the hell, I'll go to West Marine and just bite the bullet. How bad could it be???"

How bad? 250% premium bad.

They only had one of the valves I needed which made the decision easy. Look at the price difference between WM and Defender (only difference is WM had Shields hose, Defender sells Trident).

What's up with that???

Peter

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Old 03-20-2022, 06:56 PM   #2
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WM is almost always expensive. For some items it's a small premium, for others it's massive. And occasionally their price on an item is actually good. I pretty much consider them a last resort as a result.
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Old 03-20-2022, 07:10 PM   #3
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All I can say is that with overnight shipping from Connecticut to San Diego, including tax, Defender was still $185 less expensive than West Marine ($190 vs $375). Only thing I can figure is WM Pro Discount must be enormous these days, and the high prices allow marine professionals who charge their customers MSRP a greater margin.

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Old 03-20-2022, 07:44 PM   #4
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I like Defender and patronize them when I can. Have bought a few things recently and wonder whether they are reducing inventory based on the acquisition or new business model.

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Old 03-20-2022, 08:08 PM   #5
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I like Defender and patronize them when I can. Have bought a few things recently and wonder whether they are reducing inventory based on the acquisition or new business model.

Ted
I can tell you from recent experience that the shelves I've been shopping have been lean. San Diego Marine Exchange is a locally infamous old-school chandlery. When I head from Ensenada to San Diego, it's a day-long trek so I pick-up 5-20 SKUs at a time. It's been a long time since I've gotten a complete order. Missing has been run-of-the-mill stuff. Epiphanes in gallons. 14/3 AC cable (had to go with 12/3 - at double the price). All sorts of stuff that used to be readily available. Previously mentioned valves and hose. Not the type of stuff you'd expect to be back-ordered. WHen I was home in Florida doing some plumbing (house, not boat), I needed three 1/2" PVC couplers. I ended up buying a bag of 25 because I couldn't find three - and I was lucky to get the bag.

Bottom line is while I am super-skeptical of the "Supply Chain" stuff being floated, I do believe that some markets are indeed affected. Marine being one. I'd give Defender a pass....for a while. I don't see anything unusual with them (and lord knows, I've order a LOT of stuff from them in the last 3-years).

Peter
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Old 03-20-2022, 08:19 PM   #6
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I looked up your 2 items using my WMPro acct. I get a mid range discount and could get within $1 on the price on the hose but the only 3/8" Groco ball valve they show is in stainless and is crazy expensive.
WM pricing sucks and always has, that's what happens when you bigfoot into areas and all the little stores can't compete and close.
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Old 03-20-2022, 08:28 PM   #7
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I looked up your 2 items using my WMPro acct. I get a mid range discount and could get within $1 on the price on the hose but the only 3/8" Groco ball valve they show is in stainless and is crazy expensive.
WM pricing sucks and always has, that's what happens when you bigfoot into areas and all the little stores can't compete and close.
I tried looking-up the Groco ball valve online and couldn't find it. The main San Diego WM is pretty big and has pro-desk and engine parts counter in back, so a bit different than others I've been in. They had one Groco 3/8" Female/Female NPT valve on the shelf for $40.99. That was it.

In all fairness, the price of these Groco valves varies widely - Hodges and a couple others had them for around $24/each. Defender was definitely cheapest at $17. Defender isn't usually the lowest cost, but they are usually within 5% or so. And their availability is pretty good.

West Marine should have bought Defender and smothered them. I'm embarrassed to admit what I've spent in the last couple years refitting my boat. 60% went to Defender, 20% to some similar stores such as Hodges. 19% went to specialty suppliers such as Newfound Metals. Well under 1% went to West Marine, and that was mostly because they price-matched at the time. I had not been in a West Marine in 2-years before today.

Peter
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Old 03-20-2022, 08:35 PM   #8
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In my experience, WM's normal prices are well above MSRP. Like rslifkin, I consider them a stop of absolute last resort.
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Old 03-20-2022, 08:50 PM   #9
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I did actually buy something from West Marine today. On Friday, my electrician in Ensenada discovered he needed three fuses to install my Magnum inverter. So we decided on a ATO fuse block. I couldn't get it drop-shipped in time, and West Marine had a Blue Sea 6-gang block in stock ($45, which isn't bad).

But here's the rub that has me wondering how they stay in business:

Their online website said there were three in stock at the Rosecrans SD West Marine, but to call the store to verify, which I did. They held it for me for pickup this morning. NOTE - most national chains now have shop-online, pick-up in-store. Meaning you pay for it online. Not West Marine. So I show up this morning to pick-up at Will Call, and there's no one there. I politely ask an associate to have someone show-up and he does. Still no one shows up at Will Call. So I remember "There are supposed to be three in stock...." There are two on the shelf so I pluck one and buy it, meaning there is still one in Will Call waiting to be picked up. I'll also say check-out at WM is about 5-years behind. They don't want the chip-insert, just swipe.

An hour later I discover SD Marine Exchange is short 4-valves so I return and have the experience I origily posted so when I return, I try to tell the guy at Will Call to release the Blue Sea block. But he is busy with 3 customers, and frankly, I'm ready to head home and take a Xanax.

There was a thread a couple months ago about the change of ownership at WM (again). As best i can tell, whatever the owners at WM are doing these days, it sure as hell isn't blazing new ground, and it's not regaining the boating customer base.

Peter

EDIT - if anyone from West Marine reads this forum, I see there are 23 people reading this thread as I type. If you want intelligent feedback on how to improve your market penetration, there are some really bright people on this forum.
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Old 03-20-2022, 11:46 PM   #10
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San Diego Marine Exchange has really struggled with stock since Covid supply chain issues popped up. It seems better in the past month or so, but for a while it was very hit or miss. Still, I try and use them as much as I can and since I get a good discount the prices there are as good as any online place for the most part.
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Old 03-21-2022, 12:55 AM   #11
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I used to use Jamestown Distributers with their membership plan with free shipping. But they did away with that so I stopped using them. Now I have been using Defender with their membership plan. Hope the new owners donít screw up Defender cause there isnít a big supplier left.
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Old 03-21-2022, 04:56 AM   #12
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You're killing me. I just made a stop at WM for fuel lines, a few fittings, new bilge hoses, a few clamps and a quart of bilge paint. I need these on hand for real early Thursday and didn't want to risk it not being here in time on Wednesday. I definitely paid a premium for the comfort of having these on hand. We are scheduled for Friday launch.

Anyone have a Groco Six port fuel valve on hand? I have sourced one in stock at WM Atlantic Highlands. Only place I could find one in stock, but have to call when they open to verify, and I'd miss a minimum of 2 hrs boat work time to chase it. Might try to overnight this part from somewhere on the east coast though.
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Old 03-21-2022, 06:49 AM   #13
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I will say I was extremely happy with the service I received ordering from Great Lakes Skipper. I was not happy with the fit and finish of one of the tanks I ordered and they made the replacement quick and painless.
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Old 03-21-2022, 06:58 AM   #14
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Have a port supply account. Good for 25-50% discount. Even with that consider WM a clothing store not a chandlery. The sales rack for clothes and boots/shoes does offer good stuff at reasonable prices. Biggest problem I have is I don’t know the correct name/supplier/sizing for things. Even now after 3 decades of involvement.
In the old days there was 4 family held chandleries in my town. I’d take the broken part to them one by one until I found a perfect match. I’d also chat them up about any project I was contemplating. They were knowledgeable and walk me through it. Would also collect what I would need to do it and tell me which supplier had the best stuff.
Now I walk into a WM and need to teach them . The name of the part. What’s it for. Who makes the best one. Find parts on hand are for small motor boats. Vey little on the shelves for cruisers in power or sail.
You see the same degeneration elsewhere
Brooks Brothers used to measure you and keep your card on file.
Orvis used to be all about fishing not branding.
L.L.Bean was a camping, fishing and hunting store.
List is infinite. Every time they’re selling lifestyle not the real accoutrements necessary to do the activity. Branding not best.
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Old 03-21-2022, 07:27 AM   #15
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In general, I consider Defender my go-to. If they don't have what I want or their price isn't great, I'll generally go to Fisheries, Hodges, Citimarine, Jamestown, Marine Parts Source, Go2Marine or BoatID as the next step. Most of those second-tier suppliers are second-tier in my mind as they just aren't quite as well rounded as Defender in the price and selection department. All of them are good suppliers, but some of them are only useful to me for a specific range of items and their prices or selection just aren't great outside that.

But even Defender isn't perfect. I've ordered a couple things from elsewhere recently out of necessity. Like new fuel hoses for my boat. Defender wasn't the cheapest for the feed or vent lines and they only carry 1.5" and 2" fill hose. My fill hoses are 2 3/8", so I had to go elsewhere for those. On the other hand, for the water tank build, Defender's prices on fiberglass are pretty hard to beat.



Quote:
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In the old days there was 4 family held chandleries in my town. Iíd take the broken part to them one by one until I found a perfect match. Iíd also chat them up about any project I was contemplating. They were knowledgeable and walk me through it. Would also collect what I would need to do it and tell me which supplier had the best stuff.
Now I walk into a WM and need to teach them . The name of the part. Whatís it for. Who makes the best one. Find parts on hand are for small motor boats. Vey little on the shelves for cruisers in power or sail.
You see the same degeneration elsewhere
The employee knowledge definitely varies. Some WM stores have good managers and do a decent job of that (although they still may not have what you need). Others are definitely less helpful.
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Old 03-21-2022, 07:46 AM   #16
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There is no comparison between WM and Defender. I can drive to both, WM is 5 mins, Defender is about an hour. I was at Defender a couple week ago and there was no sign of reduced stocking. In fact I couldn't believe how well stocked they are in comparison to the local WM which has minimal stock. I'll use WM out of convenience if they have it, otherwise I'll drive to Defender for bigger purchases or if I can't wait for delivery. If you are strictly shopping online, Defender is usually among the best, but you may find better deals, even on Amazon.
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Old 03-21-2022, 07:49 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
All I can say is that with overnight shipping from Connecticut to San Diego, including tax, Defender was still $185 less expensive than West Marine ($190 vs $375). Only thing I can figure is WM Pro Discount must be enormous these days, and the high prices allow marine professionals who charge their customers MSRP a greater margin.

Peter
Hi Peter, When we commissioned our last sailboat in 2006 in Ft Lauderdale we were given a one month access to WM pro discount. We bought thousands of dollars of gear at WM and price-checked most of it against Defender. In almost all cases the WM price WITH the pro discount was roughly equal to the Defender price. When that deal expired i switched to Defender wherever possible!
~A
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Old 03-21-2022, 08:18 AM   #18
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West Marine = 7-11; convenient but expensive.
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Old 03-21-2022, 08:52 AM   #19
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I have found that COVID is the new excuse for poor service. Yes, Covid has had an effect on the supply chain, but not as much of an effect as management either being unable or unwilling to invest in inventory. One of my main suppliers is running at a75% fill rate. Employees there informed me that business was up 25% but the President is so afraid of being caught with excess inventory that he will only allow a 5% growth rate in purchasing. I suspect that WM hasn’t the Capital to up their purchasing rate even when sales are up. Both of these decisions lead to empty shelves.
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Old 03-21-2022, 10:51 AM   #20
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Defender, Fisheries, Boatzincs, and most recently: Fixnzip for zipper sliders. The staff at these places know their business and how to treat customers.

WM in my area is more like a clothing store with expensive parts not in stock than a chandlery.
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