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Re: [SabreSailboat] Re: I hate these people

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  • Jim Starkey
    When West started, boat stuff came from mom and pop boat stores with really high prices and very limited stock. West was fresh air with reasonable prices and
    Message 1 of 18 , Feb 19, 2013
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      When West started, boat stuff came from mom and pop boat stores with really high prices and very limited stock.  West was fresh air with reasonable prices and a very large, no huge, inventory of stuff.  Before West came to New England, part of every business trip to the other coast involved a pilgrimage to a West Marine to pick up something I couldn't get locally.  Once West showed up in New England, the trip was shorter, the selection was the same, but all the little guys died.  I miss the local chandleries, but there was nothing to be done about it.

      Now West is struggling with the Internet guys.  Defender is one big warehouse, Hamilton two.  Their inventory is simple to manage.  They buy in sufficient volume to get special attention from their suppliers and probably don't need to keep more than a week or two's inventory of anything.  Their stores are shoestring operations with a handful of employees.  (Jim: I'm looking for a car for 1 1/4" track.  Hamilton employee: I can show you where it is, but you aren't going to like the price.)

      West has a network of hundreds of stores with inventory all over the place.  And, unlike a pure mail order house, if they don't have the widget on the shelf, they lose the sail and piss off a customer.  So they have to one a few of almost everything everywhere just in case.  They have many more employees per sales volume that the mail order guys.  And, just to make things worse, their Internet site, where they could easily compete on price, is constrained to the store prices to avoid really pissing off their customers.

      John is right about everything (again).  Lands End, incidentally, started out as a mail order house for high end sailboat fittings with a side business of button down shirts.  Their catalog was absolutely excellent, a virtual study guide for neophyte boat owners.  But they made a lot more money on shirts and dropped the marine business.  I don't think I ever bought anything from them, but I just loved the catalog.

      West has done some dumb things and I'm sure they'll find more dumb things to do before they settle down.  But if I need a spool of wire, an Ancor crimp fitting, or a non-yet-ossified Topsider, it's damn convenient to have them around.  And they sell Eldridge.

      On 2/19/13 9:24 AM, Dave Lochner wrote:
       

      John's assessment of the four business models is pretty accurate. A visit to each of the bricks and mortar stores as well as their websites reinforces his observations.

      WM stores are professionally floor planned, with the home office dictating where every item goes. The stores are modern, brightly lit, and the merchandise never dusty. Their website is slick and flashy. Somebody is paying for all this.

      Defender and HM are the antithesis of the WM marketing model. Their websites are not slick or flashy and not the easiest sites to navigate. I don't there have been significant changes in the sites in years. Both the Defender and HM stores are clean, but spartan. You'll find some old stock stuck in corners, shelves in slight disarray, and a display plan that looks like someone just said "Stick it here, there's room."

      A few years back I called HM looking for some slightly obscure part. The phone operator thought that they might have on on their shelves, so she called out to George to go look on the shelf for it. A few minutes later George (I think that was his name) came back with the part. You won't get that from WM.

      Back in the day, Boat/US and WM were the go to stores. They had reasonable prices, decent service (in store and mail order), and compared to their big competitors Goldberg's and E &B better quality stuff. Defender in those days had good prices, but you never knew when or if it would be delivered. Defender's service is world's better than any other outlet. If I order something by 4:00 PM I have it the next day by 4:00 PM without having to pay for overnight shipping. 

      Nonetheless, when I'm shopping for a big purchase, I always check WM, sometimes you get lucky with a sale and for some large or heavy items, the free ship to store shipping will offset the cost savings at other outlets. 

      Dave



      On Feb 19, 2013, at 8:06 AM, john kalinowski wrote:

       

      The business models are very different.

      Jamestown has a focus on builders.
      Used to be a time if you were looking for 1" s/s bolts that were 10" long and threads only the bottom 2", they were the only guys to go to.  To this day, if you are building a boat, they are the folks you go to as you can buy boxes off marine grade screws, 50 gallon drums of epoxy, bolts of fibreglass etc at a good price.  They have expanded to sell paint by the gallon and tools not found else where. You are not going to find halter tops with embroidered sailboats in their catalog.

      Hamilton took care of the working fleets. To this day, nobody touches their prices for pot warp, 4" raw water strainers, or vulcanized slickers. They have expanded to support us weekend warriors.  They discount their electronics which helps sell more and offer everyone a better deal.  Their focus is local, but they sell throughout the states via catalog and the web.

      Defender has always been targeted to the weekend crowd.  They have found they can discount most manufacturers suggested retail price and still make a profit.  They have resisted the temptation to expand which has played well with the introduction of the Internet and competitive shipping channels that get product into your hands fast.  Finally, they have embraced their vendors to put on events that draw & sell long time customers who thought they already had everything they needed.

      West has been a brick and mortar type of place (eg boating big box store). They used their size and marketing to bust their competitors one region at time.  Examples would be how they crushed James Bliss Marine, Boaters World, and then took over the Boat US stores.  As they grew, they seemed to have lost their ability to compete thinking their size is their competitive advantage. Could be the high cost of all those buildings (and associated staff) they need to maintain.  Their focus is more on the entry level boater to the boater with a couple years under their belt.  They sponsor local events to be part of the local community.
      They carry some fasteners, but mark it up considerably for the hassle it causes compared to other products that are easier to manage inventory on.

      Each has it's own focus.  For many here, West is useless as the prices are higher to support those stores, the product is not on hand, and the employees are not of much help because of the level of expertise most owners have gained by the time they step up to a Sabre.  In such an environment, we all vote with our dollars.  I find I almost never use West anymore because I can order from Defender on Monday and have the stuff on Wednesday for the following weekend at a price that is still cheaper including shipping.    I have little use for shirts with blue fins/trawlers on them, sandals, or glassware with sailboats etched into them.   That is not the case for others, and that is the beauty of the free market.

      My requirements works against them.  On a Saturday or Sunday, I will pass 3 of them on the way to the boat. None are yet open as I pass by, nor do I impulse buy nautical themed  clothes.  I am sure there are others who fit their target market demographics better.

      Longer term, I think West has headwinds in trying to be competitive with all that overhead, and the fact boating is waning, which cuts into their supply of new boaters.  Add in the specialty web sites that focus on rigging, hardware, water ski & snorkeling gear and you can see they have a lot of competition.  But that is up them to address.

      While it is nice to be able to pull into a port with a piece of busted gear and have a West store a cab ride away, you need to be honest assessing how important that requirement is, and vote with your money accordingly.

      john

      --- On Tue, 2/19/13, Dan Trainor <dptrainor@...> wrote:

      From: Dan Trainor <dptrainor@...>
      Subject: Re: [SabreSailboat] Re: I hate these people
      To: "Sabre Sailboat" <Sabresailboat@yahoogroups.com>
      Date: Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 12:26 AM

       
      Sustainable (for profit) businesses strive to make profit and serve their stakeholders well over the long term in the context of free market competition.  As a customer, you are free to choose where to purchase. Your reasons for choosing is your personal choice, what ever that may be.


      On Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 10:06 PM, Michael Grishman <mgrishman@...> wrote:
       

      Your statement makes no sense.  Both Hamilton and Defender have been around for a long time.
      I doubt that they are run as charities.


      On 2/18/2013 8:43 PM, Jim Starkey wrote:
       

      You'know, selling stuff below cost eventually gets tedious.

      By all means, buy stuff from the low bidders.  The faster they go bankrupt, the faster we return to a sustainable economy.


      On 2/18/2013 8:26 AM, tsaiapex25 wrote:
       

      That is tood bad about this new policy. It gives no incentive shopping there unless something I needed it right away.

      Jeff
      Sabre 28-III Abacus
      New Bern, NC

      --- In Sabresailboat@yahoogroups.com, Michael Grishman wrote:
      >
      > I hate these people, I hate these people, I hate these people. There,
      > now I got that out of my system.
      > Who do I hate? Why the Evil Empire (West Marine) of course. As well as
      > our Sabre home in New England,
      > my wife and I have a Precision21 at our place in SW Florida. I needed
      > some 5/16 StaSet line and went
      > to the local West there and asked if they would price match it. They
      > said no problem as long as it was
      > with a bricks and mortar store, I had the Hamilton Marine catalog with
      > me showing the price as $.69 a
      > foot. They wanted $1.16 per foot. Now if a small family owned
      > chandlery can make money at 69 cents
      > a foot, why does a behemoth like West need $1.16 a foot? Then it go
      > really good. The salesman asked if
      > I was aware of a new price match policy going into effect in March? He
      > proceeded to explain that the new
      > policy would only allow them to match a price if the seller was within
      > 50 miles of the store where you were trying
      > to make the purchase. Of course there is no Hamilton or Defender in
      > Florida or most other locations so they
      > have found a way around a meaningful price match policy. West has just
      > lost every penny of my future purchases.
      > I suggest that we all boycott The Evil Empire.
      >
      > On another matter, we need new sails for the Precision. We do not race
      > and only day sail her. Ha anyone on the
      > list had any experience with mail order sails? Good or bad?
      >
      > Thanks,
      > Michael
      >
      > Sabre 402-097
      > Wind Walker
      >
      > Precision 21-056
      > Sunshine
      >






      --
      Dan



    • sailor11767
      Jim, SailBoatOwners.Com seems to be growing strongly APS keeps moving to larger digs Hamilton and Defender seem to be stable and viable None of these four
      Message 2 of 18 , Feb 19, 2013
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        Jim,

        SailBoatOwners.Com seems to be growing strongly
        APS keeps moving to larger digs
        Hamilton and Defender seem to be stable and viable

        None of these four firms look like candidates for bankruptcy. I can't imagine any of these four firms have lower "cost" than West. All but one are B&M stores. Yet all four have massively lower prices than WM, with WM running easily 50% higher than any of these firms, even figuring in S&H.

        We will get the opportunity to see if we are just poor losers, and fork over our money -- or if we have simply enjoyed the bonus of getting our products same-day at mail order prices, and shift our purchases to two day delivery at mail order prices. I can't afford a boat as it is, so I have probably made my last WM purchase. If indeed price match was a "loss" for WM, then they will be happy to see me go to the competition. If instead price match was just "less profit" then perhaps they will miss that smaller profit -- after all, I suspect that a $50 profit on a price match is better than no profit on a lost sale.

        Harry

        --- In Sabresailboat@yahoogroups.com, Jim Starkey <jim@...> wrote:
        >
        > You'know, selling stuff below cost eventually gets tedious.
        >
        > By all means, buy stuff from the low bidders. The faster they go
        > bankrupt, the faster we return to a sustainable economy.
        >
        >
        > On 2/18/2013 8:26 AM, tsaiapex25 wrote:
        > >
        > > That is tood bad about this new policy. It gives no incentive shopping
        > > there unless something I needed it right away.
        > >
        > > Jeff
        > > Sabre 28-III Abacus
        > > New Bern, NC
        > >
        > > --- In Sabresailboat@yahoogroups.com
        > > <mailto:Sabresailboat%40yahoogroups.com>, Michael Grishman wrote:
        > > >
        > > > I hate these people, I hate these people, I hate these people. There,
        > > > now I got that out of my system.
        > > > Who do I hate? Why the Evil Empire (West Marine) of course. As well as
        > > > our Sabre home in New England,
        > > > my wife and I have a Precision21 at our place in SW Florida. I needed
        > > > some 5/16 StaSet line and went
        > > > to the local West there and asked if they would price match it. They
        > > > said no problem as long as it was
        > > > with a bricks and mortar store, I had the Hamilton Marine catalog with
        > > > me showing the price as $.69 a
        > > > foot. They wanted $1.16 per foot. Now if a small family owned
        > > > chandlery can make money at 69 cents
        > > > a foot, why does a behemoth like West need $1.16 a foot? Then it go
        > > > really good. The salesman asked if
        > > > I was aware of a new price match policy going into effect in March? He
        > > > proceeded to explain that the new
        > > > policy would only allow them to match a price if the seller was within
        > > > 50 miles of the store where you were trying
        > > > to make the purchase. Of course there is no Hamilton or Defender in
        > > > Florida or most other locations so they
        > > > have found a way around a meaningful price match policy. West has just
        > > > lost every penny of my future purchases.
        > > > I suggest that we all boycott The Evil Empire.
        > > >
        > > > On another matter, we need new sails for the Precision. We do not race
        > > > and only day sail her. Ha anyone on the
        > > > list had any experience with mail order sails? Good or bad?
        > > >
        > > > Thanks,
        > > > Michael
        > > >
        > > > Sabre 402-097
        > > > Wind Walker
        > > >
        > > > Precision 21-056
        > > > Sunshine
        > > >
        > >
        > >
        >
      • Stephen
        I was somewhat interested by this discussion, and looked at both the Hamilton Marine and West Marine websites. The Hamilton Marine Dacron Sta-Set (an old
        Message 3 of 18 , Feb 24, 2013
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          I was somewhat interested by this discussion, and looked at both the Hamilton Marine and West Marine websites. The Hamilton Marine "Dacron Sta-Set" (an old name for Sta-set which they now call polyester) appears to be an older product. I couldn't even find it on the West site. Hard to see if you are really comparing apples to apples. If I compared the current flecked 5/16 Sta-Set, Hamilton is .75 and West is .97. I buy from both, but will pay more if I can stop into the store and get what I need immediately, can exchange products bought online or in a store without having to produce paperwork, etc... Even on a Sunday!!! I buy from both stores, but appreciate West's selection, return policy and convenience. We have a West superstore near us, and it has the best selection of everything-I needed a special primer to touch up bare spots on my Awl-gripped mast-they had it in stock.
          Last year I had hem splice lines and halyards for my spinnaker on my 34MK2. Probably 15-20% more than Annapolis Performance, but I had them in less than 72 hours-very well done!
          I attended the Boston Boat show with a friend the other day. West's show price for a Garmin GPS and radar was about $150 less than online anywhere, and resulted in $120 in West certificate dollars.
          I also agree with their new price match. Brick and mortar stores should not match prices elsewhere-shipping differences alone to a store justify a difference in price. Does Hamilton deliver for free?
          So, I'll continue to buy from both. And with my 34MK2, a Flying Scot, Turnabout, 23 foot Mako, a Zodiac and a few row boats, I have a lot of experience buying boat stuff!!!
        • john kalinowski
          FYI  dept: sta-set is a polyester line.Dacron is Dupont s trade name for Polyester.Sort of like Pepsi is a specific trade name for cola. So if Stay-set is
          Message 4 of 18 , Feb 26, 2013
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            FYI  dept:

            sta-set is a polyester line.
            Dacron is Dupont's trade name for Polyester.
            Sort of like Pepsi is a specific trade name for cola.

            So if Stay-set is made with dacron, then it is constructed with Dupont polyester fibers.

            --- On Sun, 2/24/13, Stephen <stephen.ouellette@...> wrote:

            From: Stephen <stephen.ouellette@...>
            Subject: [SabreSailboat] Re: I hate these people
            To: Sabresailboat@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Sunday, February 24, 2013, 1:55 PM

             



            I was somewhat interested by this discussion, and looked at both the Hamilton Marine and West Marine websites. The Hamilton Marine "Dacron Sta-Set" (an old name for Sta-set which they now call polyester) appears to be an older product. I couldn't even find it on the West site. Hard to see if you are really comparing apples to apples. If I compared the current flecked 5/16 Sta-Set, Hamilton is .75 and West is .97. I buy from both, but will pay more if I can stop into the store and get what I need immediately, can exchange products bought online or in a store without having to produce paperwork, etc... Even on a Sunday!!! I buy from both stores, but appreciate West's selection, return policy and convenience. We have a West superstore near us, and it has the best selection of everything-I needed a special primer to touch up bare spots on my Awl-gripped mast-they had it in stock.
            Last year I had hem splice lines and halyards for my spinnaker on my 34MK2. Probably 15-20% more than Annapolis Performance, but I had them in less than 72 hours-very well done!
            I attended the Boston Boat show with a friend the other day. West's show price for a Garmin GPS and radar was about $150 less than online anywhere, and resulted in $120 in West certificate dollars.
            I also agree with their new price match. Brick and mortar stores should not match prices elsewhere-shipping differences alone to a store justify a difference in price. Does Hamilton deliver for free?
            So, I'll continue to buy from both. And with my 34MK2, a Flying Scot, Turnabout, 23 foot Mako, a Zodiac and a few row boats, I have a lot of experience buying boat stuff!!!

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