MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

August 5, 2009

Boaters World Is Going Out of Business – Why You SHOULD Care!

(Update: Subsequent to writing this article Boaters World has in fact closed its doors for good.)

Boaters World is a national chain of retail stores that sells items and accessories for, yup you guessed it, boaters! Not just boaters but also kayakers, water skiers, fishermen etc. They carry all kinds of equipment, riggings, electronics, parts and accessories as well as clothing.

And they are going out of business.

If you don't have a boat (and maybe even if you do) very likely your initial reaction is to say "big deal!" After all, many businesses especially these days are closing for good. And if you're really anti-establishment you're probably saying this only affects "the rich" because only "the rich" own boats. Who needs a boat anyway?

Well, not so fast.

Besides the obvious loss of jobs at the retail store, and the not so obvious loss of jobs in the back office company headquarters, there is a much greater implication to this closing. I don't know the specific details as to why Boaters World is closing. Clearly the company is either no longer profitable to operate, or, even if still profitable it may not be profitable enough to be worth the trouble to keep the doors open (running a business of any size is a headache!).

In my home, living on Long Island, for the past several years more and more I see boats remaining on their winter stands well into spring and even summer instead of being put in the water. Some boats I doubt have even been in the water at all last season! And some boats have had "for sale" signs on them for months, even years.

Before you quickly dismiss the loss of this business and the shrinking of the boating community take a moment to consider the further reaching implications of what this means on the American economy and society.

First, there are thousands of hard working middle class people who own boats. You don't have to be one of "the rich" to own an 18 or 20 foot fishing boat. Many fathers have spent years teaching their children to fish and enjoy fishing and boating just as their own father taught them. In coastal (and many inland) states boating is as much a family tradition as skiing or snowmobiling or horseback riding or the summer trip to Disney.

Second, boats don't grow on trees. Someone has to make them. That means skilled fabricators (doesn't matter if the boat is wood or fiberglass). There are mechanics to build, install and maintain the engines (even on sail boats). Marine electricians to wire the boats and install the devices like radios, GPS and fish finders. Then all this has to be maintained so even after the initial sale the mechanics and technicians still have business (even on small family boats).

Third, boats have to be registered so the state gets its fee (not to mention sales tax when a boat is sold and accessories/supplies are purchased). Plus, if you trailer the boat the trailer needs to be registered too.

And last but certainly not least is the quality of life issue. Boating in all aspects is an activity enjoyed by millions of middle class (not only "the rich") people. Those who dream of someday owning a boat for pleasure cruising, fishing, or whatever. If a business like Boaters World can't make a go of it any more that says volumes for health of this part of an American dream.

So yes, you should care that Boaters World is going out of business.

It's not your father's America any more.

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