View Full Version : West Marine Thieves

09-12-2004, 12:24 AM
Searching the web for an outboard motor cart, I was surprised to see that the one available at West Marine was almost twice the price as the one at Bass ProShops. Looking carefully to try and figure out why, I was shocked to see that they were selling exactly the same product.

Model 31600 (WM has picture labeled wrong)

Bass Pro, $74.99 (http://www.basspro.com/servlet/catalog.TextId?hvarTextId=37356&hvarTarget=search&cmCat=SearchResults)

West Marine, $119.99 (http://mastercatalog04.westmarine.com/0343.asp?LinkBackProdId=24780)

Seeing this, I decided to check out a couple of other products that both stores carry:

8.5 x 26 Taylor Made Super Guard Fender
BPS, $35.99 (http://tinyurl.com/65u65)

WM, $59.99 (http://mastercatalog04.westmarine.com/0731.asp?LinkBackProdId=14527)

Garmin® eTrex® Legend GPS
BPS, $169.99 (http://tinyurl.com/4nbth)

WM, $199.99 (http://tinyurl.com/6nxcb)

Meguiar's Cleaners - Flagship Premium Marine Wash
BPS, $8.99 (http://tinyurl.com/4bgnu)

WM, $10.99 (http://tinyurl.com/69bxq)

and the list goes on and on.

Now, it seems that WM and BPS are both companies of about the same size (ie, HUGE) and so there should be no difference in volume discounts, etc., so my only guess is that WM is deliberately gouging its customers.

Clearly, they think they can charge their "Yacht Club" customers more than BPS can charge their "Rod and Gun club" customers.

Well, from now on, I will never buy anything from them without searching around extensively first.

09-12-2004, 05:59 AM
The power of the consumer.

I wonder if the same difference exists north of the border.


Harry Miller
09-12-2004, 08:29 AM
It's been going on for a long time. In 1972 when, for me, wooden boats had yet to be invented, I raced a shark (24 foot keel boat very popular up here). In the yard ready to paint the bottom with a Petit product at $33/quart, my neighbour said the stuff he was using was only $18. When I looked it was the identical stuff. Luckily I hadn't opened my can and so returned it to Tom Taylor's and asked them for an explanation. Now Taylor was the biggest chandlery in town and they were the Canadian wholesale distributor for Petit. Their explanation was that they supplied the other shop and didn't want to undercut its price.
Well they certainly didn't! and that was the last time I used them.

Dave Wright
09-12-2004, 09:33 AM
It's often worse on small hardware items you're likely to buy without much thought; an example from just last week:

Stainless footman's loop for 2" webbing....$6.99

Same item at mom & pop outboard shop.......$1.75

Dave Wright

Mark Van
09-12-2004, 11:46 AM
I just purchased 200 feet of 5/8" good quality line from a local store that caters to the shrimp boat fleet for $60.00. West Marine line is 87 cents a foot. Anchor chain is also less than half (nearly 1/3rd) of the west marine price.

09-12-2004, 12:47 PM
Back from family stuff. For what its worth a brief internet foray for comparison purposes only. At an online Canadian outdoor store Garmin Etrex Legend C(colour) C$439.94 and in B&W C$214.63. At an online Radio shop C$419.00 and C$209.00.


09-12-2004, 01:36 PM
yup...and last week I wuz about to build a harness/carrying sling for a piece of equipment, a neighbor drove me to Waste Marine at Deale...welded stainless steel rings were packaged at $5.29 EACH at Waste...walked out...went down road a ways to an awning shop...welded stainless steel rings, same size...bulk...in BIG bag.......75 each.....2 inch diameter suction cups to hold your garmin on the windshield....raw cups 3.49 a pair...(waste Marine).....fourteen cents each, same exact part...at Ace Hardware..... and in a previous post I noted that Waste issued me some $10.oo off certificates but when I went to use them they were refused by the store as "our comptroller said not to take them anymore"......incidently..I didn't go to Waste to buy the rings..just to price them in the store...

Scott Rosen
09-12-2004, 08:29 PM
Waste Marine is a publicly traded company. You can check out its financial performance with just a little bit of research.

They are USA's largest boating supply retailer, and after picking up all of the BoatUS stores, have an increasing market share. I tried to glean from the 10-k why they have continually raised their prices relative to their competitors, and nothing jumped out at me. If any of you want to spend a few hours analyzing WMAR's financials, be my guest . . . ;)

WM is missing it's sales and earnings projections. This is from a Sept 1 AP report:

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (AP) - Specialty boating supply and apparel retailer West Marine Inc. on Wednesday said August same-store sales fell 6.4 percent, more than double analysts' estimates for a decline of 3 percent, and the company does not expect to meet its previous third-quarter earnings guidance as a result.

West Marine attributed the shortfall to continued soft sales as well as the effects of Hurricane Charley.

The company said August total sales rose 4.1 percent to $56.8 million from $59.2 million.

For the 34 weeks ended Aug. 28, the company said same-store sales rose 2 percent while total sales rose 6.5 percent to $510.4 million from $479.5 million.

West Marine said that as a result of the lower sales, it does not expect to meet previous third-quarter earnings guidance of 43 cents to 44 cents a share. The company plans to update estimates in mid-September, after the Labor Day weekend. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call currently expect the company to earn 41 cents a share in the third quarter.

West Marine expects same-store sales over the year to usually remain relatively flat due to the need-based nature of its business.

Shares of West Marine closed up 23 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $18.32 on the Nasdaq.

Gary E
09-12-2004, 08:46 PM
This seems tosay it all...

West Marine expects same-store sales over the year to usually remain relatively flat due to the need-based nature of its business.
Or, as they say, read between the lines, and read what they really mean... NOT needed based nature of it's business...

This sector is posibly one of the first to go by the wayside as the economy contracts amd those who would spend extra money on items not needed no longer have that extra income. But to so many here in this forum who swallow the nightly yada yada from the administration and Greenspan, why worry? all's hunky dorry to them.

09-12-2004, 08:55 PM
Originally posted by Scott Rosen:
I tried to glean from the 10-k why they have continually raised their prices relative to their competitors, and nothing jumped out at me. Somebody has to pay for buying Boat US?

09-12-2004, 09:54 PM
West charges for convenience. You and I know where to get stuff. But think about the poor working soul. He's got a $150k boat and pays $20k per year on the boat payments and yard fees and maintenance. That's probably a low number.

Out of that he sails it maybe 2 weekends a month and another week and a few other tripa. Figure he gets in 20 days per summer. So he's paying about $1000 per day to use the thing.

Now, he's decided to do some boat maintenance and buy some stuff. He's got two options: Spend his days (and time) driving around to Jamestown, awning shops, home depot, fishing shops, hardware stores, et al. He needs to find where these things are, get there, figure out what they each carry, etc etc.

Remember: he pays $1000/day to go sailing. Time is PRECIOUS. You think he'd balk at paying $1 for a $0.20 screw to save himself a 20 minute trip?

West makes its money by intelligent stocking. SO long as they can manage to be a one stop shop for most people (which they largely do pretty well, for the FG crowd at least) they serve a good portion of the market.

09-12-2004, 11:49 PM
Originally posted by ErikH:
West charges for convenience.Yeah, but Bass Pro Shops (maybe they don't have them around you) are giant sporting goods (mostly fishing) stores, larger than a typical WM store. And they are online as well. So buying from them is just as easy as buying from WM.

I'm just shocked that two retailers similar in size and mission (you could always go to your local tackle store, if you wanted, rather the BPS) can be so different in price.

Nicholas Carey
09-12-2004, 11:58 PM
Originally posted by ErikH:
…think about the poor working soul. He's got a $150k boat and pays $20k per year on the boat payments and yard fees and maintenance. That's probably a low number.

Out of that he sails it maybe 2 weekends a month and another week and a few other tripa. Figure he gets in 20 days per summer. So he's paying about $1000 per day to use the thing.Actually, market research reveals that your "average" boat owner uses his/her boat for about 17 days each years—and for each day the vessel is used, the usage is, on the "average", less than 4 hours per day.

Ya might want to recompute your cost calculations a bit :D

Now these figures cover all recreational boat owners sail/power/other, everything from somebody's canoe or 16-ft aluminum jon boat and up. But it jibes with what I see, looking around Lake Union here in Seattle. There's literally millions of dollars of boats sitting at the docks in Lake Union, many of them big power boats costing 100s of thousands of dollars.

They pretty much just sit there. They get used for

1. SYC Opening Day Parade.
2. 4th of July fireworks
3. 1-2 weeks summer holiday
4. The occasional UW football game (you can boat to the stadium)

That's about it.

You see a lot of big trawlers for sale with something like 6-800 hours on the diesels. A friend of mine maintains that thats the amount of engine time you rack up by buying the boat new, using it locally for a couple summers and then finishing up with a 3-week cruise up to Alaska and back via the Inside Passage.

Scott Rosen
09-13-2004, 12:15 PM
I still don't get it. I can understand WHY Waste would want to charge more. I just don't see how they can get away with it for very long.

Boat products are fungible. My Interlux 404/414, or a CQR anchor, is the same stuff whether I buy it from Jamestown or from Waste. With only a slight amount of advance planning, I will be able to buy most of my supplies before I need them, and can shop for the best price. The Internet is the great equalizer.

And, if I'm going to pay more than the lowest price, I'm not keen on paying it to a large public company that doesn't cater to my needs as a wooden boat owner. I'd rather give it to a company like Jamestown, which keeps a lot of products that I need in stock.

Historically, the only way you can raise prices above the competition is to trend toward a monopoly. Maybe that's what Waste thinks it is doing by acquiring BoatUS. But in most places where there's water, there's more than one chandlery. Before Waste can get a monopoly, it has to put the others out of business. That's usually done by predatory pricing, i.e., lower prices than the competition.

How bad is Waste? A couple of weeks ago I needed some vinyl letters for my dinghy. I went to the Boaters' World, and the letters were 29 cents each. Great. Except they didn't have one of the numbers that I needed. So I went down the street to Waste, and the exact same letters were 59 cents each. I was in a hurry, so I bit the bullet and paid the higher price. But it left a bad taste in my mouth and made me want to avoid Waste even more.

[ 09-13-2004, 01:26 PM: Message edited by: Scott Rosen ]

Scott Rosen
09-13-2004, 12:24 PM
And, Waste's inventory is financed. So I would think that if sales are slow, they need to do something to move the inventory faster. You don't need to be an Einstein to figure out that if you want to move inventory faster, you lower the price.

Now, a good word for Waste. I needed a repair kit for my Wilcox-Crittenden Skipper head, which hasn't been made for years. The last time I bought a repair kit was about 5 years ago. I checked around, including an internet search, and Waste was the only place that carried them. I'm sure I overpaid, but I had no choice. The killer is that most of the parts in the repair kit are interchangable with other WC heads, but there a couple of parts that aren't. WC sells most of the interchangable parts, but not the few that are specific to my head. So I have to buy the whole kit just to get a couple of the parts.

09-13-2004, 01:41 PM
while I agree WM prices are high....

No one is forced to buy from them. They set their prices at what they think the market will bear, it's just business. Maybe their shooting themselves in the foot, don't know.

I do know that my local WM will match published catalog prices, like Hamilton Marine, plus a BS 'S&H' charge... Ask your local store if they will do that. Sometimes I do buy from them, but usually do mail order instead.

vote with your dollars.


Peter Malcolm Jardine
09-13-2004, 10:14 PM
My experience is all you have to do is mention the word "boat" and the price goes up about 30%

I buy all my rope, glue, fasteners, wire, etc from industrial supply houses. It's always cheaper. The only thing I rely on from chandleries is paint and caulking and specific marine equipment. I shop around a lot. I have a friend who lets me buy wholesale marine through his garage. Julie was sort of shocked at the gas usage of the boat (twin 283's) and said on a couple of occasions how expensive it was to operate. I reminded her it cost me 3000 dollars a year for it to sit at the dock and not use it too :D I must admit that canadian mooring fees are much much less. I pay about 1800 a year plus crane fee (200) for winter and summer on a 36 foot boat. From what I hear of the east coast of the US that's cheap cheap.

Steve Paskey
09-13-2004, 11:00 PM
West Marine charges 50% more than Bass Pro Shops and they still can't meet their sales and earnings projections???

West should be making profits hand over fist for the prices they charge. If they're not, something's wrong. Either they're managed very poorly, with outrageously high overhead costs, or the books are a fiction, and the money's going to an offshore account in Antiqua . . .

I'd like to shop more frequently at BPS, but they're not convenient -- only one store to serve the Washington-Baltimore-Annapolis area, versus at least 6 or 7 in the Worst Marine conglomerate (including Bloat US). And the one BPS store is at Arundel Mills mall, midway between the three cities and a long hike from all of them.

[ 09-14-2004, 12:04 AM: Message edited by: Steve Paskey ]

09-15-2004, 12:41 AM
I have all three, Two Wests, Boaters World, and Bass Pro Shop nearby and Boaters World usually is the best price. I never buy anything at West unless I have to have it right away and they are the only one that has it.

My local West store will meet the price of Boaters World but its a hassel every time you shop there. Wouldn't it be nice to just get what you need and not have to market search every item to be sure your not getting ripped off.

My last few purchases have been electrics and mail order from Hamilton was definitely the best for tin coated wire etc.

I also do not understand how the WEst Stores stay in business, my only guess is being the "one stop shop" ie., convenience and having lots of items.

I hated to see Boats US get bought.


Gary E
09-15-2004, 04:58 PM
More news from West today...

16:02 ET West Marine sees Q3 results below consensus (WMAR) 20.13 +0.13: Co states, "As we stated in our September 1, 2004 press release, sales in August continued the soft trend that we first observed in the latter part of June. Sales have remained soft so far in September and, as a result, we now expect third quarter sales to range from $184 million to $185 millionand earnings per share to range from $0.33 to $0.35. We currently expect comparable store sales for September to range from -6% to -3%, and for the third quarter to range from -7% to -6%", Reuters consensus fro Q3 revs are $186 mln and EPS is $0.36. For Q4 co sees revs in the range of $119-121 mln and a loss per share ranging from $0.08-0.11, Reuters consensus is $122 mln and a loss of $0.10. For Y04 co sees sales of $685-688 and EPS between $1.26-1.31, Reuters consensus is $690 mln and $1.29, respectively. Co expects comparable store sales for Q4 to range from -2% to flat, and for Y04 to range from flat to 1%.

09-17-2004, 06:03 PM
stef, did you know Bass Pro Shops is coming to Ontario? They are building a store out near Wonderland as I type this.

09-17-2004, 08:12 PM
Oh Joy!! :D Another place to spend my money and comparison shop. Luckly it is not to close for a quick spin by. Is it going into that new shopping centre with the dedicated on off ramp? I'll have to check the web site to see.


capt jake
09-17-2004, 08:22 PM
Boaters World usually is the best price Funny, I have a West and Bosters World here. Boaters World seems to have mis-priced stuff every day!! In other words, they try to gouge me for a higher than marked price.

Yes West is high; but I find Boaters World un-reliable and rather fickle. I have to haggle with them on almost every purchase. :confused:

09-17-2004, 10:06 PM
I just bought some Teleflex throttle/shift controls for $475 from WM. With a plastic casing and chrome handle. I think they are ugly but it's all I could find. I felt totally ripped off. If it's for a boat, it's got to be expensive. Didn't have time to do any shopping around unfortunately.

09-20-2004, 05:16 AM
I occasionally walk in for rigging kayaks,,,and walk out. 2" foam brushes are usually 50% more expensive than the same brand from the hardware store one block away. West Systems is 10% cheaper at hardware store. Little things like fastec buckles or plastic clips for bungies are 100% over priced. ditto the ss. rings. Here's a good one,,those pricey 4"x4" adhesive backed reflective patches are $15 a four pack,,for awhile they were $9 at boaters world but they got bumped up.
One thing I can always count on are short sleeve summer shirts 30%off.

Scott Rosen
09-21-2004, 09:55 AM
Originally posted by chergui:
I felt totally ripped off.I always feel that way when I buy something at WM. I wonder how long a business can keep doing that--making their customers feel ripped off.

09-21-2004, 10:28 AM
Precisely as long as those customers keep coming back.

Matt J.
09-21-2004, 10:33 AM
We've only got a Boater's World and Waste Marine on Kent Island. There's an old burned out building near a stoplight up the road. IN faint painted letters one side reads "Marine Supplies" and I've always told Jenny we ought to open a JD / Hamilton style chandlery - one that sells quality stuff at a real price. Not always cheaper, but always useful and stocked.

There's Fawcett's in Annapolis, which is like shopping at Tiffany's, but they've got what you want or need, and know how to do what you're trying to do. I pay their mark up prices and don't even feel ripped off. They're a local shop, Mom and Pop if you will, and they can actually help, not just sell junk.

09-21-2004, 03:49 PM
You can sign up at Fawcetts as a member of the charter boat association or as a local permanent boater and the prices come way down...I have shopped there on and off for 20 years when in the area and after about 5 years and 3 boats I remarked about the prices on something and they made me aware of the situation....walk ins pay full price....fill out the little card....

Matt J.
09-21-2004, 04:08 PM
I did that, too, Chuck. I even got great (really really good) discounts when I showed them documentation of having just bought a boat. It was something like wholesale prices for 30 or 60 days.

It's nice being able to say "yes I have an account" and see those discounts when you check out. Everyone complains about their tiffany's prices, and sometimes they really are, but given the service, and the knowledgable staff... I'll pay their list prices before shopping at Waste or BUS. Problem is, that bridge looks big when all you need is a few feet of line or a quart of varnish.

09-21-2004, 06:09 PM
yeah...but I'm on the other end.....

Matt J.
09-22-2004, 07:37 AM
Let me know if you need a ride to Fawcett's, Chuck. I can entertain myself wandering the store even if I don't need anything (which never happens).

09-22-2004, 11:20 AM
I guess should vent about my pet peeve with West Marine. Whenever they ring up my purchase on the till, they always ask for my phone number. When I ask why they need my phone number in order to sell me something, they reply by sheepisly saying that it is for their database or some such excuse. Now, I know why they want my number. It is because as a sector society, boat owners have proportionally higher disposable income than non boat owners. A list of phone numbers of boat owners is a valuable list to sell to telemarketers. It galls me to be singled out and exploited because all I really wanted from them is some epoxy thickener that is not available anywhere else in town. I will never give my phone number to Waste Marine.

09-22-2004, 12:03 PM
After decades of pestering the customers for phone/zip info at EVERY purchase, the local Radio Shack stores have finally backed off. Perhaps it's a modified corporate policy, or perhaps the management of these two particular stores have wised-up... I don't really care which, I just hope other companies (west, etc.) catch on.

09-22-2004, 01:46 PM
Typicaly in Canada we get asked for our postal code(zip code equivalent). I always answer H0H 0H0, which is Santa's postal code for the north pole. The clerks stop asking after the 3rd or forth go. Another angle would be to know the store's postal code or some other promentent land mark and give that(ie head office zip, ralph nader zip, or the queen of england). Beware of data bases if cat stevens is a treat to the USA what are we becomeing.


ps sorry for the politcal sounding rant!! :D

09-23-2004, 10:32 PM
Originally posted by Scott Rosen:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by chergui:
I felt totally ripped off.I always feel that way when I buy something at WM. I wonder how long a business can keep doing that--making their customers feel ripped off.</font>[/QUOTE]In Vancouver I think WM supplies most of the marine stores here. When you ask if they have something they say they can always order it, and they pull out the WM catalog. Half the time I can't even find what I'm looking for anyway. I'm thinking of finding sources for the common things I need south of the border and just order them over the internet. With WM's jacked up prices the price should be the same even when duty is applicable.