One of the things we kept hearing after we bought our boat was to mark our calendar for the annual Defender warehouse sale. At the time we had never heard of Defender, let alone the annual sale, but soon we discovered the glory that is Defender. We have made many, many, many stops there when driving to the boat.
Defender is a gigantic marine outfitter that ships items worldwide. 99% of the time, they have the lowest prices on any given item. They have over 50,000 marine products in a 110,000 square foot warehouse, and fortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), they are located within 15 minutes of our marina. It’s become a running joke between us. We’ll go there several weekends in a row and finally we’ll look at each other as we’re driving away and say, “I think that should be our last trip for a while.” Then we’re back again the following weekend.
The end of February brings the arrival of the annual Defender catalogue – over 300 pages filled with marine goodness. We look forward to it as if we were kids waiting for the Sears Christmas catalogue. It is pored over in detail, lists are made and remade. And then, it finally arrives – the last weekend of March. The Defender warehouse sale.
The warehouse sale runs from Thursday through Sunday, and those four days represent 20% of Defender’s annual sales. Their already-low prices are discounted at least 10% further, and there are many blowout deals. Tons of vendors are available to answer questions about their products, similar to what you would find at a boat show. Coming at the end of winter, the place is mobbed with boaters who can’t wait to start the season. It has the feeling of the first day of school – everyone is excited and seeing people they haven’t seen all winter. The Rotary club even sells hotdogs and chips from a cart.
Last year was our first Warehouse sale and we were very impressed with how smoothly everything ran. You can tell that Defender has a lot of experience with this. Normally only a portion of the warehouse is open to the public, but for the Warehouse sale they open up the entire area. You can get things from the shelves yourself, or if the items aren’t on the shelves you can give the sales staff the product numbers and they’ll pull it for you from the back shelves. They have a projector on the wall with last names displayed as your order is ready so you can talk to the vendor reps (or browse) instead of hanging around waiting for your order. Typically there are three cash registers, but for the sale Defender sets up well over twenty so even though the line is snaking through the warehouse it moves very quickly.
We had hoped to arrive at Defender on Saturday when it opened, but it didn’t quite work out that way. We ended up parked along the side of the road, quite a ways from the entrance, but it didn’t matter – it was time for the Warehouse sale!
List in hand, we immediately ran into a coworker of mine and chatted for awhile. I asked him if he would be coming back the next day and he said no, and I said we wouldn’t either. We had our list and we were ready. It was time to get down to business.
Even though we aren’t in the market for a dinghy (and we won’t buy another inflatable one regardless), it’s fun to see the displays of all of the models. Defender is the largest inflatable boat dealer in North America, and the largest Zodiac and Achilles dealer in the world. They have all of their available models displayed for the warehouse sale.
We collected our items from the pickup area, including our much-researched anchor, rode and chain.
And even though the line was VERY long, we were checked out within minutes thanks to all of the registers they set up. They really do a top-notch job.
As we were driving home later that day with our goodies in the back of the car, we realized that despite our best efforts, we were going to have to go back again the next day. And my co-worker? When I saw him today, he said he went back on Sunday too.
And so another season begins.