TAMPA — MarineMax is setting up a temporary showroom at International Plaza to sell boats and raise awareness about boating.
The Clearwater-based boat dealer is opening several locations at U.S. malls owned by Taubman Centers Inc. The Tampa store, in the lower level of the former Robb & Stucky furniture store, will be the first.
"The goal is to reach out to people who don't normally go to a boat store or a boat show and show them what boating is all about," said David Witty, vice president of event marketing and retail merchandising for MarineMax.
The showroom will have a 24-seat theater for showing videos about boating and a picture zone where customers can take virtual photos of themselves riding a wakeboard behind a boat.
More than a typical retail store, the showroom will also offer boating safety courses and MarineMax's Women on Water boater training classes. Of course, people can buy boats off the floor or inquire about the company's inventory of new and used boats and luxury yachts.
MarineMax moved three boats into the showroom Wednesday. They range in size from 17 to 24 feet and in cost from $25,000 to $70,000.
The showroom plans a soft opening next week, followed by a grand opening about Sept. 1. It will be open through January.
Robb & Stucky's two-level store at International Plaza has been closed since the Fort Myers-based chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy early last year and liquidated its inventory. Since then, the mall has been looking for a permanent tenant.
MarineMax chose International Plaza because it caters to a similar, upscale clientele, Witty said. The company also is looking to expand the concept to other mall brands.
Susan Thurston can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 225-3110.