Shopping at the mall brings forth mental images of clothing, jewelry, electronics, and maybe a quick stop at Starbucks, but if MarineMax has its way, boats could be added to that list. They’re opening up a showroom at International Plaza in Tampa, Fl, with more mall boat showrooms to come.

Marinemax mall store

A theatre, boating how-to classes, and actual boats will all play a role at the new MarineMax mall locations.

The International Plaza location, set to hold a grand opening on September 7, is going to have a lot more to offer than the three boats moved in last week. It will also feature a 24-seat mini-theatre, boating safety courses, and MarineMax’s “Women on Water” boater training courses. The idea isn’t merely to sell more boats (although customers will be able to buy boats on-site), it’s to expose a new segment of the general population to boating.

“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 displays will include panoramic backgrounds, fans to simulate the wind, and the ability for potential customers to take “virtual” pictures of themselves boating and wakeboarding.

The concept of marinizing the mall will be tested at International Plaza at least through next January, and MarineMax plans to open additional showrooms at other malls owned by Taubman Centers, Inc. (which owns 25 locations), this fall. If the experiment works out, expect more MarineMax mall marketing in the future.

-Lenny Rudow