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2014-10-29

The sun sets in the West Marine

 
I rarely darkened the door, except when they had anti-freeze or anti-foul paint on sale, but this is a sea change for Toronto boating.

A rare news alert from me to my readers in Southern Ontario who may attend the Toronto International Boat Show in January: As has been rumoured around the docks for some time, West Marine is closing up shop here in Toronto on Jarvis Street, which will leave only the revived Dock Shoppe (in Genco Marine's former digs on Queen's Quay) as the only chandlery proximate to the downtown waterfront.

Reliable sources state that West Marine should have a closedown sale at the Boat Show prior to the Lower Jarvis Street store shutting its doors in January to make way for the inevitable condo project. Word is that West Marine will be winding down its Canadian operations entirely when individual store leases end, with the goal to be completely out of Canada by 2017. It remains to be seen if the sale will be merely of the 25% off variety (boat show special) or the 70% off seen when The Dock Shoppe closed in 2012. I'm still installing things on Alchemy from that epic haul of gear.

So, if seeing the shrinking number of indifferently built sailboats that resemble condos puts you off at the Boat Show, you may wish to attend this year's event in the hopes of deep discounts. I rarely shopped at West Marine, because I tend to be less about the anchor-themed placemats and more about fisherman-grade gear, but I don't like the reduction of local choice in retail chandleries to one. Given the recent shuttering of Island Yacht Club and other rumours about clubs barely hanging on, it doesn't bode well for chandleries here in pricy, roads-torn-up Toronto and it looks like I'll be pedalling west...or sourcing on the internet...more than I had hoped to do.

6 comments:

Silverheels III said...

Online chandleries in Kingston, Ottawa, Binnacle in NS and Defender and Discount Marine? in Wisconsin have always served us well with online orders.

Rhys said...

Same here. Still, given the expert advice I've received from HMP and Genco (where Becky worked for some time), and the convenience of being able to see and touch certain items or just get stuff like pins, rings and lengths of wire and line, I prefer the retail experience.

Ken Goodings said...

You're right. Both Peter and Nick have been very helpful, sometimes even patient with us over the past 20 years.

Rhys said...

Well, that's the key, isn't it? There are many marine items that are "the right stuff" but which are made by small firms that may not have the marketing or technical savvy (or dollars) to put in the right instructions. Many times I've bought something only to get a short, verbal checklist that starts "this is the only installation that will work". Try that via phone and UPS...it's easier on everyone just to get the needed tips from the knowledgeable vendor.

Brian Jones said...

Ironically, in a small town on Lake Erie, far, far from the center of the 416 universe, there are two chandleries within walking distance of the Dock. :)

Rhys said...

Not so ironic, Brian (hello, by the way!). Small places with properly gauged business taxes and rents (or, more likely, chandlery-owned premises) can thrive even in places with comparatively low density. I'm thinking of Dean Marine in Cobourg, where a small YC and a larger marina, (and here's a key factor) along with a Coast Guard station, seem to keep a modest waterfront chandlery in healthy business. There' likely no other similar place for 50 km. either side, which helps, too. Trust me, I do not like a situation in which there's just one shop within walking distance now, but a cluster of six just over the western Toronto border in Mississauga. It's the opposite of convenient, although good for my legs to bike into a headwind.