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Harbor visions, island dreams
For the new owners of two well-established Bainbridge stores, the lure was the island, not simply the enterprise.
Small towns give me the opportunity to get involved, said Bob Schoonmaker, new owner of the Chandlery with partner Kimberly Corrigan.
The two avid sailors live aboard a 40-foot boat in the Harbor Marina, and were long-time customers when John and Jane Jay owned the store.
I was looking for an opportunity to re-orient my life from the city back to Bainbridge Island because I love it here so much, said Schoonmaker, who works with a Seattle outdoor-clothing firm.
This is a marriage of my passions, which are boating and managing a business, he said.
The couple noticed the Parfitt Way business for sale in a newspaper advertisement, and learned that the owners simply wanted to retire after 14 years.
They wanted someone who would work in the business themselves, not just own it as a toy, Schoonmaker said. We talked, and (Jay) decided to sell to us.
The sale took place in early August, and was effective immediately.
He gave us the keys, took his jacket and left, Schoonmaker said.
Although the couple will add a few new wrinkles like outdoor wear, the stores maritime orientation wont change.
This is the best-stocked marine supply store for miles around, Schoonmaker said, estimating that two-thirds of the business is maritime parts, with books, groceries and sundries rounding out sales.
A native of upstate New York, Schoonmaker moved to the Northwest shortly after graduating from Florida State University, and settled on Bainbridge after a brief stint in Seattle.
Calling boaters great tourists who come for a couple of days and spend a lot of money, Schoonmaker said he would like to see the city make Eagle Harbor more visitor-friendly, through a bigger municipal dock and a spruced-up Waterfront Park.
He wants to be part of that effort by becoming a member of the Bainbridge Harbor Commission, because civic involvement was one of his key motivations in becoming Chandlery owner.
Buying this business was as much about buying into the community as buying this particular business, he said.
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The new owners of Skookum followed a soccer-playing son from Redmond to Bainbridge.
My youngest son plays soccer on a select team, and was playing for a team in Kingston, Randi Morgan said. I had been looking for that sort of Norman Rockwell lifestyle, and when I saw Bainbridge, I said this is it.
When she and husband Jack decided to move to the island, the original plan was for him to buy a business.
Our broker said there was a store on the island that (I) would like, she said. I walked in, felt right at home and here I am.
The Morgans bought the business in early August from Ann and Bruce Candioto, then took over late that month after depositing the soccer-playing child at Colorado State University.
Randi Morgan doesnt plan any major changes in the store, which features clothes for women and babies.
Ann had a great store, and I dont want to mess with it, she said. She has added jeans and a more active wear, and will experiment with other clothing.
For the time being, the Morgans are living in Redmond and both commuting, she to the island and he to a new job in Belltown.
Once they sell the Redmond house, they plan to rent on Bainbridge while they build on a lot theyve purchased on the south shore of Eagle Harbor.
Im from the Midwest originally, and Im used to being totally landlocked, Randi Morgan said. This will be the first time I can wake up in the morning and see the water.
She is also looking forward to the slower pace of island life.
People take the time here to really talk to you, she said. Its not a fly-by conversation.
I hadnt realized how my life prior to this had just been little snatches of time. I had to slow my conversations down here and learn to share real thoughts, not just superficialities.