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Monday, March 4, 2013

Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery Celebrates 10 years in Hampton Roads and Beyond

Skupjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery riverfront showroom
is located in Olde towne Portsmouth, VA.

By Toi wilson
Portsmouth Virginia Department of Economic Development

Portsmouth is a seaport town where maritime history and traditions created a way of life.  Today, homeowners and boaters look to recreate the days of nautical living through home décor, art, and apparel. Customers throughout Hampton Roads, and as far away as New Zealand, have discovered authentic nautical antiques and furnishings, original marine art, and handcrafted nautical accessories at Skipjack Nautical Wares and Marine Gallery here in Olde Towne Portsmouth.

Skipjack's Chelsea Room features authentic nautical antiques and marine art.

Custom made grate table.
Skipjack Nautical Wares, celebrating 10 years in business this month, is located at One High Street in historic Downtown Portsmouth.  A decade ago, owners Alison and Joe Elder set sail on a journey to merge their passions for boating and uncovering history with their business management experience to create a specialty store that offers a range of nautical-themed merchandise.  The furniture and home décor is constructed using recycled or re-purposed materials, also known as Eco Furniture.

Nautical Chart Lampshade.

The Skipjack design studio utilizes many shipboard items that are removed from retired ships in foreign and domestic shipyards as well as natural materials, such as locally found driftwood, in addition to boards and vintage fishermen's materials to produce one-of-a-kind coastal living pieces. Artwork and handmade gifts are mostly the work of local craftsmen, such as the Salt Water Bath Co. soaps made in Hampton, Virginia and the Monkey’s Fist Rope Knot furniture knobs (an interior decorator’s favorite) produced here in Olde Towne.  The nautical lampshades are constructed in the Skipjack Design Center using only the highest quality materials, including authentic NOAA nautical charts featuring locations from the Chesapeake Bay region.

Over the past ten years, the Elders have grown their store from a local, specialty boutique into an international business.  They attribute their success to being resilient, flexible, and persistent.  Initially, Skipjack was located in an area that did not meet the needs of the business.  In 2005, the Elder’s changed course and moved to Portsmouth.  In 2008, a fire destroyed their store and their residence.  The business realigned and made headway to its current location on the Portsmouth waterfront.

Skipjack Nautical Wares High Street location,
 Olde Towne Portsmouth, VA.

A dedicated web presence (online store, blogs, social media, information sources) has supported the brick-and-mortar operation.  Joe advises that a constant web presence and marketing are essential components for running a retail business.  Allison’s advice for new entrepreneurs is to remember to have patience and be flexible to market trends.  It takes time to establish a customer base, and as markets change, businesses should be prepared to make adjustments to stay the course.

The next time you are in Portsmouth or surfing the web, be sure to visit Skipjack Nautical Wares and Marine Gallery where you can find a tribute to our seaport City’s origins and a collection of the best in coastal living.

Toi Wilson is a respresentative for the City of Portsmouth,Virginia Department of Economic Development. She writes monthly articles featuring Portsmouth's people, places and things as part of the departments Enewsletter.