FLIBS 2011: West Marine offers preview of Lauderdale superstore

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west1031FORT LAUDERDALE — West Marine opened the doors of its newest store last week to marine media to flaunt its largest store ever built and what it says is the biggest boating store in the United States.

The new Fort Lauderdale superstore will have its soft opening Nov. 11 and a weeklong grand opening celebration Dec. 7-11. At 50,000 square feet it’s twice the size of West Marine’s major flagship stores and five times the size of a standard West Marine store.

The store creates a one-stop shop for the boater, with everything from electronics to apparel to fishing gear available in one location. More than 30,000 products are in stock, compared with the average flagship store, which stocks between 15,000 and 18,000.

Boaters walk in to colorful displays on either side and a replica megayacht flybridge, built by Hargrave Custom Yachts, in the center that showcases more than 300 working marine electronics.

“It’s about the customer,” explained Lynn Ferguson, chief marketing officer and senior vice president. The store offers interactive experiences for consumers and offers anything they could want to enhance their boating experience.

“We listened to the customer, and that’s what we incorporated into this store,” added regional vice president Erik Rimblas.

West Marine rolled out its flagship model a few years ago and currently has eight flagship stores — four in Florida and the others in Newport, R.I.; Brick, N.J.; San Diego and Woburn, Mass. Rimblas said the company has found that these flagships have “retail gravity” and can pull in boaters from 50 miles away or more.

When the company opens a flagship store, it has closed other stores in the area that would compete with the larger store. With the opening of the Fort Lauderdale superstore, only one smaller store will be closed.

Other features of the store include:

• A megayacht division catering to captains and crews

• The ability to create a seminar space at the front of the store

• A large customer service desk

• Sailboat hardware

• A rigging shop

• Three monitors throughout the store that offer do-it-yourself videos

• A working head

• A full engine parts section

• Many interactive displays

• A complete apparel section that includes Qwest Marine’s own line of clothing

• A complete apparel section that includes Qwest Marine’s own line of clothing

• Jewelry and watches

• A watersports area

• A bait shack where fishermen can hang out and tell their stories

    West Marine has 319 stores in 38 states, Puerto Rico and Canada and three franchised locations in Turkey. The company said 73 of its stores are based in Florida.

    The new Fort Lauderdale superstore will employ 84 associates, more than double the 40 at its existing Fort Lauderdale location.

    — Beth Rosenberg

    b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

    Comments

    5 comments on “FLIBS 2011: West Marine offers preview of Lauderdale superstore

    1. Robert Jackson

      The question really is what will this do to your local family owned marine dealerships in the area. It’s already hard enough for a dealership to survive in this economy, now they have to have this competition added to that already. When will these big distributors stop and realize that their killing the local small business community, until their gone that’s when.

    2. floridafishfinder

      Not sure of the ROI here:

      * Five times sq ft floorspace (At 50,000 square feet it’s twice the size of West Marine’s major flagship stores and five times the size of a standard West Marine store.)
      *Less than 2x increase in product selection (More than 30,000 products are in stock, compared with the average flagship store, which stocks between 15,000 and 18,000.)
      * The new Fort Lauderdale superstore will employ 84 associates, more than double the 40 at its existing Fort Lauderdale location.

      Great they are employing more people, but…Diminishing returns? Marine advice with the same in-depth knowledge as Wal-Mart? Am I missing something?

      This won’t kill small business. West Marine is not ‘cheap’. Also mass merchants will never replace the local Ship’s Store. Local knowledge is worth alot more than the few cents one may save wandering a ‘mega-store’. Just think of the overhead…

    3. Heather Valdez

      The staff at Sailorman, a family owned marine store that is now only a block away from the new store (opposed to the 2 and a half blocks to the old store), are ecstatic about the new West and the potential traffic it will bring. We’ve been in our location on 84 since the early 80′s and have seen many small businesses like our own go out of business. This new store will bring (hopefully) many new faces right by our store. We are looking to bank off of all their marketing efforts as we offer something they don’t… an exceptional staff, used and consignment merchandise, and an opportunity to wheel and deal with the owner face to face. They are hoping to get those from as much as 50 miles away. We have clients travel half way across the globe to shop :-). We say… BRING IT ON!

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