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West Marine opens Florida flagship store

A 21,000-square-foot West Marine store opened Thursday in Sarasota, Fla., becoming the sixth flagship store for the provider of marine supplies and equipment.

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"We're aggressive and we believe in the future, and we have the resources to do [this]," West Marine president and CEO Geoff Eisenberg said at a grand-opening celebration Thursday. "We're interested in growing the company and doing a better job. We try to be smart with what we do, but you have to move forward and be assertive."

West Marine also has flagships - stores larger than 20,000 square feet - in Brick, N.J., Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville, Fla., San Diego and Newport, R.I. West Marine had been underserving the Sarasota-area market, Eisenberg says.

"The market is big enough," he says. "We know there is potential. The challenge is every area [of the country] is different. Every one of our stores is different because every market is different."

West Marine has closed its two smaller stores in Sarasota. The flagship store, which has about 40 employees, will focus on fishing gear and electronics, store general manager Wayne Seel says. It also will stock engine parts and supplies.

"We have many parts-type items, like you would see in an auto parts store, that are for engines because there is a lot of do-it-yourself in this area and wholesale trade," Eisenberg says.

The Sarasota location at 4708 South Tamiami Trail at the intersection of Proctor Road also will serve as a regional hub for Port Supply, the wholesale division of West Marine. Its customers include boatyards, boatbuilders, boat dealers, service shops and charter boats. The hub will service businesses from Crystal River to Marco Island.

Grand-opening activities will continue through the weekend. About 20 boats from southwest Florida dealers are being displayed in the parking lot. The brands include Pursuit, Grady-White, Andros Boatworks and Mojito Boats.

Discounts on products will be available, and experts will be on hand to coach boat owners about maximizing performance.

— Chris Landry

Senior Reporter

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