Do these song lyrics sound familiar to you?
“Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out. Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about. Well the names have all changed since you hung around, but those dreams have remained and they’re turned around. Who’d have thought they’d lead ya, here where we need ya, welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.”
You guessed it; this is the theme from the popular 1970s sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter.” This week, your Economic Notes reporters are welcoming back California Marine Sports to Fairfield.
California Marine Sports originally opened its location in 2007 at 4670 Central Way in Fairfield. The economic downturn forced the business to downsize in 2009. Cal Marine closed its 17,600-square-foot Fairfield showroom and retail store and scaled down its sales activity to focus on boat repair in an existing facility leased in Suisun City.
On Aug. 1, Cal Marine reopened a 10,600-square-foot showroom and pro shop in a portion of its former location at 4670 Central Way in Cordelia.
“We are excited to be back in Fairfield,” said Grant Fulford, owner of Cal Marine. “Our location offers freeway visibility and easy access for our customers. While we had to downsize for some time, we are happy to take advantage of a strengthening economy and improved rents.”
It is no secret that the U.S. economic situation placed a hardship on consumer discretionary purchase items such as boats and luxury automobiles. However, there has been some recovery in the industry.
Statewide boat sales rose by 120 units during 2011. Fulford noted that numerous financing options are now available for customers with good credit, including long-term loans of up to 30 years for the most expensive boats. Very few financing options were available when the economy tightened.
Fulford also noted that the industry lost more than 75 boat dealers in California during the economic downturn. While new dealers have opened, the industry remains smaller than during the 2005-07 blockbuster years. This reduces competition and increases the customer base for California Marine Sports.
California Marine Sports draws customers from throughout Northern and Central California.
“We have some customers who come to our repair shop from LA and even San Diego,” said Fulford. “Our location is ideal for capturing boaters visiting the Delta, the Sierras and even Lake Berryessa.”
California Marine Sports offers a range of broad boats, focusing on three markets:
Fulford said that California Marine Sports has focused heavily on wakeboard surfing and other tow sports and is one of the largest retail wake surfing shops in the United States. It sponsors a nationally competitive team, which participates in events around the country.
California Marine Sports also takes advantage of the major sports fishing scene in the Delta, the Lake Tahoe area and Lake Berryessa.
In addition to boats, California Marine Sports operates one of the largest boating pro shops in the region, offering an extensive selection of clothing, gear and supplies. The company also partnered with El Dorado Hills-based Gold Key Storage, which offers indoor, air-conditioned, stacked boat storage. Boat owners use Gold Key for storage and just give 24-hour notice of when they wish to use the boat and Gold Key makes it available for the owner.
While the current space is smaller than the space used in 2009 (10,000 square feet versus 17,000 square feet), California Marine Sports still offers an extensive retail inventory in its indoor showroom.
The company is open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Check it out and welcome them back to Fairfield!
Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or email at [email protected] or [email protected]