One of the staples of South Florida’s marine community is Sailorman, the warehouse that sells new and used marine stuff. A fixture on State Road 84 for more than 35 years, it has recently relocated. Join us for Triton Networking on the first Wednesday in September, (Sept. 6) from 6-8 p.m. as we tour the new Sailorman, 3000 S. Andrews Ave. (33316).
Until then, learn a little more about the store and the man with the parrot, Chuck Fitzgerald.
Tell us about Sailorman.
Sailorman was hatched, literally, out of the back of hatchback in 1977 by a cruising Englishman. In 1983, it moved to its long-time home on State Road 84 [just west of US1]. At that time, Fort Lauderdale was very different and had more of a cruiser-sailor atmosphere.
I bought the business in 1985 and we’ve evolved to cater to the boats in the marinas today. The name Sailorman makes it sound like we just work with sailboats, but that’s actually a small fraction of our business now.
We take in and sell new and used marine gear. We have everything from shackles to davits and gangways to painting supplies to T-tops. Our used items we both buy outright or consign.
We love for yacht captains and crew to bring stuff in on consignment. Most of the time, it’s a win-win. When it’s stuff the owner just doesn’t want anymore, we can buy it at a good price and the boat can have a little mad money right away for their next crew outing.
We’re actually looking to expand that part of our business by buying a truck so we can go out to the yards for pick up to make it easier.
There was a business in town a couple years ago that left a lot of people with a bad taste about consigning marine equipment. But not everyone operates that way. We’ve been doing this since 1985 and we’ve never not paid anybody, ever.
What’s going to happen over at your old place?
It’s scheduled to be another hotel for the cruise line business.
So how was the move?
It was grueling. We moved the bulk of our store in just three days, but that last 20 percent seemed to take forever. We’ve spent most of the summer preparing, moving and reopening Sailorman and still have some unpacking to do.
Why do it?
Well, they tell me I need to think about retiring, and I started thinking about selling the building and the business. The building sold pretty easy, but selling the business was harder. I didn’t want to just let it go.
Finally, we decided that Heather would take on more responsibility so I could step back a little, put in a normal day’s work instead of all the overtime that being in charge requires. However, with the move, I’ve worked more now than I ever have. But I’m not ready to retire. I love this store, and I’ve enjoyed this business for more than 30 years. The bird and I will likely still be here every day.
What changes will your customers see in this new space?
This location has 25 percent more space, so we’ll have wider aisles and a more open format. The old place was like a maze. Some of our old-time customers were worried that we’d turn into a West Marine. That’s definitely not happening. There’s still a fair amount of dust; that’s part of the ambiance. Thankfully, the mosquitoes haven’t found us yet.
But there’s still no air conditioning. Is that part of the charm?
We thought it would be cooler than the other place. But it can get hot here, especially in the summer. We’re looking into A/C for next summer. It may take away a little charm, but I don’t think the staff nor the customers will mind.
If you’ve never visited Sailorman, now’s the time. Join us at 3000 S. Andrews Ave. (33316) for casual networking, great food and an adult beverage. No RSVP needed. Just bring a smile and a willingness to meet some new people.