In 1976, Russ Francisco opened a sailboat hardware shop on London Road catering to the traffic heading up the shore and to inland lakes. He kept busy selling rope, pulleys, swivels, gaskets, lanyards, O-rings and D-rings to keep the sailboats seaworthy. That was enough for him but the customers who stopped asked for live bait, fishing tackle, power boat hardware, boat seats, anchors, boat paint, electronics and much more.
Throughout the years he added to his inventory, his staff and his expertise, and soon expanded into larger quarters next door to 1501 London Road, where Marine General has been ever since. But the growth and the changes in his business has never stopped.
“This is a one-stop store for boaters and anglers, plus we have hundreds of items for all types of outdoor enthusiasts,” said the personable Francisco. “Over the years we have added camping supplies, winter clothing and boots, Carhartt work clothing, snowshoes, ammunition, and hunting clothing. But even with all of these new products we still cater to the sailing and marine enthusiast who needs parts and accessories.”
Marine General mostly deals in expertise. The employees fish and boat themselves.
“The staff here is the secret to our success,” said Francisco. “It’s hard to find good people, and the folks we have here are really good. They can tell you what lure to use in a particular situation; they’ll give you pointers on casting or on rigging your sailboat.”
Mariner General employees regularly travel to seminars about boating and fishing equipment and techniques in Chicago and Green Bay to extend their specialized knowledge of Great Lakes and walleye fishing.
By keeping his overhead low, Francisco is able to sell products at prices that remain competitive with the chain sporting retailers and catalog companies. The company gives the catalogs a little extra competition by maintaining a mailing list of thousands of names who receive a listing of new products and special prices two times each year.
This brings in boaters, anglers, and water sports enthusiasts from all over the US and Canada to the store, and with the help of the website, Marine General can be a one-stop shop for boaters and anglers all over the world.
Francisco also gives back to the community of boaters and anglers that supports his business by supporting organizations who educate the public in boating safety, such as the Duluth Power Squadron or specific fisheries such as the Steelhead Association or the Western Lake Superior Trollers Association.
“These groups help keep boaters and anglers safe, and they work on conservation issues so that there will be adequate fishing the lake and clean water in all the waterways,” said Francisco. “We don’t have time to do that, but their work is very important.”
It all fits in with Marine General’s business plan, to supply high quality goods at a realistic price and to serve the customer. Experience it for yourself when you stop in the friendly store at London Road and 15th Avenue East, Duluth.
Source: Marine General