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Massey's Marine store to close on Ladner waterfront
One of Ladner's most recognizable waterfront landmark businesses will be downsizing in November, as Massey's Marine Supply will close its retail store.
Garry Notenbomer, 49, has run the Chisholm Street store with his wife Diane for the past 17 years, but a declining customer base has forced him to close down.
Notembomer chalks up that decline to the collapse of both commercial and recreational boating and fishing.
"One of the big ones is the commercial [fishing] industry has dwindled to almost nothing and now the real big one for us is the fact that for regular blue collar guys it's really difficult to go boating, it's become very expensive," he said.
Notembomer said his recreational customers used to spend the weekend travelling the Gulf Islands, but nowadays the costs of moorage and fuel costs is prohibitively high for the weekend warrior.
A former commercial fisherman, Notembomer bought his first boat when was 18 years old. Like a kid with his first car, the boat offered trips to places only accessible by ferry. That kind of freedom is only available to the wealthy these days.
"It costs $600 for a weekend of joyriding in the islands so the regular Joe Blow can't really do it anymore," he said.
Internet and crossborder shopping has also hurt his bottom line. Customers can order parts from the U.S. and have them shipped and picked up in Point Roberts for prices Notembomer can't compete with and remain in business.
"When I buy something I have to deal with border brokerage, duties, shipping," he said.
The Notembomers originally bought the business from namesake Doug Massey in 1996. A commercial fisherman for 12 years, he decided to get out of fishing just as Doug was retiring.
Now 80, at one time Doug Massey ran the marine store for 20 years with his wife June, daughters Cheryl and Candace and his son Kevin.
The Massey family business began in 1936 as a machine shop across the street on the former site of Ladner's first ferry landing, which Doug's father, George Massey, ran along with a shipyard.
In 1975 Doug sold the waterfront property to Nimbus Paddles and moved into a building which originally belonged to Delta Freight Lines, converting it into a machine and welding shop with a retail store for marine supplies.
"We were 60 years in business between my dad and myself," said Massey. "So we had a fair amount of knowledge in what the fishing fleet needed and how we could compete with other places."
Back in the 1970s, commercial fishing accounted for 95 per cent of his income. By the time he sold the shop, it had dropped to parity with recreational boating.
"It was a struggle, it was not easy," said Massey. "I worked seven days a week at the time, and I had to get up at 2:30 or 3:30 in the morning to pull in the boats."
The Notembombers received the Heritage Preservation Award from the Corporation of Delta in 2005 for the restoration of the Chisholm Street building, which was originally constructed in 1905.
Since they own the building, they intend to open an express service marine shop in the back, but won't carry any retail supplies.
The store will stay open until Nov. 20 with discounted items selling for 40 to 50 per cent off until that time.