In a space designed specifically for the business, Ship to Shore held its grand opening Oct. 1 at its new location on Gig Harbor’s waterfront in the Arabella’s Landing Marina Center.
The premier marine supply and kayak store of the South Puget Sound, the business is expanding its offerings to better meet the needs of its clients, said Julia Stearns, president of Ship to Shore Marine and Kayak.
“We really want to fill in the gaps with what boaters need, because when they need it they need it now,” she explained. “We like to be full service for the boaters here.”
The business moved into the new space Aug. 26, dividing its inventory between two different buildings and expanding to fill the 5,200 square feet now available for the merchandise, up from 3,500 square feet of space at the previous location.
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We really want to fill in the gaps with what boaters need, because when they need it they need it now. We like to be full service for the boaters here.
Julia Stearns, president of Ship to Shore Marine and Kayak
Stearns pointed out that the shop’s new space allows for an expanded children’s section, featuring nautical books, stuffed animals and some of the popular Green Toys line, made from recycled milk jugs. Other merchandise expansions include more Gig Harbor city gear, added book options and a bigger nautical gift section with features including jewelry, games and real Japanese glass floats.
“You don’t have to be a boater to shop here,” Stearns said. “We’re kind of just building our inventory lines.”
One new product that Stearn plans to introduce is the Helly Hansen line of outerwear, which she plans to include in the store before Christmas.
A new decorative feature of the building is bronze cast salmon set in the courtyard between the two buildings representing Chum, King and Coho Salmon, the three most common types Washington Salmon, identified by Harbor WildWatch, Stearns said.
With two store areas, the products sold by Ship to Shore have been divided between marine and sailing supplies in one building and kayak and paddleboard equipment in the other. Despite the separate buildings, the quality of service and knowledge of the employees remains at the same high standard.
“Everybody who works here are boaters of some kind,” Stearns said. “Everybody in this space really uses the products, so we’re very knowledgeable about what we carry.”
Stearns herself can offer advice for those looking to kayak or paddleboard with their canine companions, because she frequently takes her three dogs out on the water with her.
“They wanted to be wherever I was,” she said, laughing. “But I can’t kayak with all three ... yet.”
This sort of individualized attention is what sets Ship to Shore apart, and the business’ personalized work offering their customers kayak demos brings back a loyal clientele.
It’s a community. Let’s build a really great kayak community. We’re the Maritime City, let’s build on that.
The new space features a demo pond between the two buildings where those looking for a new kayak can try it out on the water, provided in addition to a more extensive on-the-harbor testing that the business offers clients.
“It’s been really fun for people to hop in the demo,” Stearns said.
Stearns and her family purchased Ship to Shore more than five years ago, in addition to owning Arabella’s Landing, which they purchased more than 20 years ago now.
Over the years the business has built a loyal clientele base in Gig Harbor and the boating community beyond, largely because the employees and owners are part of the boating community with their own boating hobbies and passions.
“It’s a community,” Stearns said. “Let’s build a really great kayak community. We’re the Maritime City, let’s build on that.”
Ship to Shore Marine and Kayak
Where: 3403 Harborview Drive in downtown Gig Harbor
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday