West Marine opens super store in Ft. Lauderdale

Fri Nov 11 2011, 11:06 AM

The 50,000sq ft store will be five times as large as its standard stores

West Marine, the boating accessories retailer, is embarking on a new chapter in its history today, with the opening of its new 50,000sq ft store in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The store is twice the size of its other flagship stores, and five times as large as most of its standard stores.

"Fort Lauderdale is a natural place for this size of a store," Erik Rimblas, regional vice president for West Marine, told the Sun-Sentinel. "This is the boating capital of the world."

The four-acre site is designed for a range of boating enthusiasts, from saltwater fishermen to megayacht captains. Touch-screen displays line store aisles to teach customers about electronics and other products, while there is also a rigging station staffed by experienced employees for orders either at the store or at boat locations in the area.

“This store is going to be amazing,” said Geoff Eisenberg, in an interview with IBI last summer. “I’ve been to most of the larger boating stores in the US, Canada, France, Germany and England, and I’ve never seen anything like this store. It’s going to be really big compared to what we’re used to.”

A marine rep close to West Marine said the Ft. Lauderdale store will be a “destination” type store for many boaters. “You’re going to see more interactive displays than any other mass retailer in the US,” he said, asking to remain anonymous. “West’s visual merchandising team worked closely with vendors on the display and gave up valuable square footage so those vendors could tell the stories of their products. West has never allowed a vendor to come in and give input on the look of a new store.”

The store’s selection will range from engine parts, fishing gear, water sports gear, clothing, jewelry, and thousands of other products. Hargrave Custom Yachts built a mock megayacht flybridge in the center of the store. It is several stories tall and took two weeks to complete. The bridge has two simulators so that clients can test depth finders and GPS devices.

"West Marine has built a strong presence not only in this city, but also throughout the country, and we believe this new superstore will further establish Fort Lauderdale as the yachting capital of the world," Robert Breslau, president of Stiles Real Estate Investment Services in a statement, which developed and owns the property. West Marine has 319 stores in 38 US states, with 73 stores in Florida. It also has locations in Canada, Puerto Rico and Turkey.

The store will have an official grand opening celebration from December 7 -11, in which it will hold themes around different boating activities, from fishing to environmental awareness.