Sunday, January 27, 2008

Inner Harbor Marine - Milwaukee WI

A friend sent me the following announcement of a new marine store here in Milwaukee: Inner Harbor Marine (IHM), Milwaukee's fully independent, locally owned, newest, fully-stocked ships store and new boat sales facility recently opened in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. IHM features over 10,000 individual, boating related products ranging from boat care & maintenance supplies to marine electronics. IHM is located in the Harborfront Condominiums, 587 East Erie Street, and is accessible via the road and two dedicated docks on the Milwaukee River. IHM features paint from Interlux, safety equipment from Mustang Survival, cleaning and maintenance products from Meguiar's and is the dealer for Duffy Electric Boats. In addition to the unique location and ships store offering, IHM features a concierge service that will deliver products to a vessel at any of the marinas located in the Milwaukee metro area. The concierge service also features a "turn¬key" cleaning & stocking program that an owner can utilize to uncover, clean & stock his/her boat with supplies needed for a weekend rendezvous on Lake Michigan. Upon return to the dock, IHM will dispose of any trash, remove unused supplies, clean and cover the boat. IHM feels this service will be well received by an owner that wants to simply enjoy his/her boat without the preparation and maintenance requirements of ownership. IHM is owned and managed by a group of investors that consist of marine industry veterans, real estate developers and restaurateurs. Aaron Kelly, who oversees all of the operations for the IHM offering, maintains day-to-day management of Inner Harbor Marine. IHM was formed in April 2007, and has plans to expand into other operations consisting of marine spill response and cleanup, storage, service, water taxi and new boat leasing programs. Since I was near downtown I decided to take a look at the store. Harborfront Condominiums are on the channel between the Milwaukee inner and outer harbors. For those of you who come to any of the various Milwaukee fests the store is near the Marcus Amphitheatre end of the Summerfest grounds. First, the bad news. When I arrived there was a sign on the door saying that the staff were at the Milwaukee Boat Show at State Fair Park. So I didn't actually get to go inside the store, but I was able to look in the windows. The store is more wide than deep so I was able to get a good idea of the stock. At this point it seems to be pretty much standard stuff. Since the location is not all that convenient - it requires quite a bit of jogging around various streets to get there - we will have to see about prices. On the “show up and your boat is ready to go, return and we will take care of it” offering I just have never had a good idea of how big this market actually would be. Certainly there will be a few boats willing to do it, but enough to make a business of it? I simply don’t know. It never hurts to have a little competition to keep prices in line. I will visit again and provide a follow up report.

Another hard day on Reboot

Roger J Jones s/v Reboot