My local West Marine store (Bloomington, MN) is staffed by friendly, helpful, generally knowledgeable folks who are very customer-oriented. I'm happy to have a marine specialty store that stocks sailboat gear less than 15 minutes from home. They are convenient and helpful and bend over backwards to get me the right information, order something for me, etc. etc.
Do I generally pay more for shopping there . . yep! (although I do use coupons, hit the sale items and clearance areas pretty heavily, etc.) I see them as a marine convenience store and accept I may pay more for the convenience! Online ordering is great, and I do some of my marine shopping there, but online doesn't help me on Friday afternoon, when I want or need something for that weekend's projects or sailing. West Marine does! Sometimes it's nice to see, feel, hear (like the fancy cabin fan I bought there last year) what you're thinking about buying.
If they don't have something in stock, they don't try to sell me something similar I really don't want . . . they order it for me and call me promptly when it's in. These orders always have arrived on the day stated and with the correct items.
I have always enjoyed shopping at this West Marine (8 years) and have never been dissatisfied with any shopping experience I've had with them.
Finally, I have no financial or commercial interest in or relationship with West Marine, whatsoever. Nor do I know any of the staff at my store personally.
1973 Chance 32/28 "Westwind"