Determining where the buy boat supplies such as oil, lubes and cleaning supplies can be a bit of a challenge.  On the one hand, you want to be sure to get the right product for your boat and motor without paying an exorbitant amount.  On the other hand, if it is Wednesday and you have guests coming for the weekend, then timeliness is suddenly a critical factor.

In this article, we identify the most popular places to buy boat supplies based on our recent survey of 156 boat owners.

Where to buy boat supplies

According to our survey participants, traditional boat dealers remain the favorite place to buy boat and engine supplies.  Nearly half (46%) purchase some items from boat dealers, and one-fourth (25%) consider it their favorite location.  The ubiquitous came in second (16%), followed by West Marine and Wal-Mart.

Though further down the list, if you are looking for a hard-to-find item and prefer to shop online, be sure to check out  They have a broad selection of parts and maintenance items for most major engine brands.  Plus, their shipping rates are reasonable – a flat $7.99 or free shipping for purchases of $149+ (some restrictions apply).

Advantages of Each Location

In addition to asking boaters where they buy boat supplies, we also asked why they prefer to shop at a given location.  The reasons varied greatly for each.

  • Boat Dealer

The advantage of buying from a traditional marine dealer is that you can often get the item you need the same day.  Plus, by working with boating specialists, there is greater assurance that you will get the right item for your needs.  While some recognize that you might pay a little more, many consider the tradeoff to be worth it.

  • ‘They have the right parts for what I am needing or have ready access to get it.’ (Marshall K.)
  • ‘I know I’m getting the proper parts for the job.’ (Josh R.)
  • ‘A dealer usually has what I need and I get everything in one stop. I pay a little more but end up with the correct parts and can get questions answered.’ (Steve C.)

Let’s face it, most prefer to shop from their sofa instead of driving across town and waiting in line.  And, during the height of the pandemic, it was about the only way to get the stuff you needed.  Plus, with fast and free shipping, you can often get what you need before your brother and sister-in-law bring the kids over for the weekend.

  • ‘Easy shopping, free shipping.’ (Gerry B.)
  • ‘Free shipping with Prime and price.’ (Mark P.)
  • ‘Convenience and typically the best price.’ (Michael G.)
  • West Marine

As with boat dealers, when you shop at West Marine, you get the benefit of working with a boating professional to help you find exactly what you need.  And, as an added bonus, they offer a broad selection of products for a variety of boat types since they are not limited by the boat brands that they carry.

  • ‘Convenient and they usually have everything.’ (John G.)
  • ‘One stop shopping. Knowledgeable people.’ (Kenneth P.)
  • ‘Get it immediately, get help from associate.’ (Juan A.)
  • Wal-Mart

Everyone likes to save a little money and the Wal-Mart name is synonymous with low prices.  Plus, they have long had a pretty sizeable boat accessories department and carry many basic boating items.  And, with approximately 3,500 Super Centers in the US, there is a good chance that there is a store near you.

  • ‘Cost and convenience.’ (David Y.)
  • ‘The prices are low and the store is close by with good hours.’ (Geoffrey R.)
  • ‘No need to wait for it to be shipped and prices are better than auto and marine stores.’ (Jason H.)

Where Should You Shop?

If you are looking for very specific, hard to find items, need help determining what to get, or need something the same day, then a traditional marine dealer or West Marine are likely your best bets.  However, for common items such as oil, gear lube and cleaning supplies, it is hard to beat Wal-Mart’s prices.

If you have the luxury of a little bit of time, then online merchants such as or provide the ultimate in convenience and the prices are typically competitive.

But, if you are looking for cleaning or waxing products, or are in need of a new cranking or deep-cycle battery, be sure to check out our top-rated brands before shopping at your favorite merchant or online store.

Jerry Mona - BoaterInput

About the author

Jerry Mona is an avid boater and angler and long-time boating industry insider. With over three decades of experience, he is often considered to be the leading research expert with boaters and has helped numerous manufacturers and trade associations to understand the needs, wants, attitudes and behaviors of boaters. He now shares many of his insights about boats and boaters for free on his website.

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