Chandlery Wars?

Two of the nations largest marine chandlery chains have moved up the stakes in the San Francisco Bay Area. A chandlery, for you landlubbers, is the maritime term for a boat supply store. West Marine opened two new stores in April, one in Alameda and one in Antioch. on June 1st. Boat US opened two new Bay Area stores, one just blocks from West Marineís largest in Oakland, the other in Sausalito. There are now two mega chandlery stores across the 23rd/Park Street Estuary Bridge from the Bay Areaís long-time local marine goods supplier Svendsonís. Sven Svendson opened his chandlery as a natural next step 4-5 years after starting Svendsonís Boat Yard in the Ď70s. Today, Svendsonís is a successful, well-respected full service facility still holding its own with the big boys of the country. Many ask, whatís going to happen? How is this going to effect Svenís. Bay Crossings visited with Sean Svendson, Svenís son and VP of the Svendson Boat Yard & Chandlery operations.

Published: November, 2002

Two of the nations largest marine chandlery chains have moved up the stakes in the San Francisco Bay Area. A chandlery, for you landlubbers, is the maritime term for a boat supply store. West Marine opened two new stores in April, one in Alameda and one in Antioch. on June 1st. Boat US opened two new Bay Area stores, one just blocks from West Marine’s largest in Oakland, the other in Sausalito. There are now two mega chandlery stores across the 23rd/Park Street Estuary Bridge from the Bay Area’s long-time local marine goods supplier Svendson’s. Sven Svendson opened his chandlery as a natural next step 4-5 years after starting Svendson’s Boat Yard in the ‘70s. Today, Svendson’s is a successful, well-respected full service facility still holding its own with the big boys of the country. Many ask, what’s going to happen? How is this going to effect Sven’s. Bay Crossings visited with Sean Svendson, Sven’s son and VP of the Svendson Boat Yard & Chandlery operations.

Why do you think two of the nations largest marine chains are suddenly in tour backyard?

It is more than just to be near Svendson’s. Alameda is a very attractive place for boating. Not 100 percent certain of the stats, I think only Marina del Rey and maybe San Diego may have more boats than Alameda. Even so, Alameda has one of the largest ratio’s of boats per capita in California. Possibly the highest. Alameda is a high impact market, a good place for a boat business to be. That’s probably why they’re here (chuckling).

Have you heard from or spoken to anyone from either chain?

In conversation with a corporate decision maker in Boat US at the recent boat show I asked why are they moving in. He said they want to go head-to-head with West, not just in the Bay Area, but in many areas of the country.

Do you think this resembles the intense competition of super markets or fast food chains?

Like Home Depot or Target? Yes, I think of them as that. Between Boat US and West it is a bit of a business war with the Bay Area as a battle ground.

What do you think makes Svendson’s different enough to survive or thrive with this kind of competition?

First, Svendson’s is a full service boat yard that allows and supports people to participate in their boat’s maintenance. That is why our chandlery will always have a place. We are not purely a “shave and hair cut” (haul, clean, paint and launch) boat yard. We have one of the best rigging shops in the Bay, an engine department, plumbing, wood and race boat expertise and a small boat section with five lines of new small boats for purchase. We have working experts on-site in most marine areas to answer questions.

Second, like the big boys, Svendson’s has a thriving wholesale business. We are fortunate to have a loyal customer base of large and small local marine businesses who trust us to find parts they need. We help them get what they need for their customers at a competitive price, quickly, saving them time and money.