Frequenters of Poulsbo’s Longship Marine have no doubt noticed by now that the purveyor of marine equipment and apparel is now absent from the Front Street storefront it has called home for some seven years. In Longship’s stead now sits a new home decor, gifts and apparel store called Better-2-Gether.
Local sailors should not fear though, Poulsbo’s Longship hasn’t been lost at sea, in fact, it has hardly even left at all. Longship’s new location is just next door at 18969 Front Street, where owners Aaron Wenholz and Nico Jensen are toiling away to create a new home for Longship Marine.
It was a simple impetus behind the move, Wenholz said.
“They sold the building…The people who bought it were putting a different store in, obviously. They made that happen in a hurry. It’s amazing how fast they were.”
“We were impressed,” Jensen agreed.
When it became clear that Longship Marine was going to have to move, volunteers rallied around Jensen and Wenholz to help the two move the store’s stock into storage.
“We moved the whole store in eight days, into three storage units, with a lot of help from the community,” Jensen said of the move. “It wasn’t even really well planned, they just showed up, it was awesome.”
The building which will house Longship’s new location has served a number of uses in the past as well. According to Jensen, the earliest available public records show that the building was constructed as the original Poulsbo Athletic Club in 1908. The building later was sold to the Sons of Norway in 1918, and later left vacant for a number of years.
“I’ve been watching this building for the last year-and-a-half,” Jensen said. “It’s a shame that it’s not been used for so long.”
In addition to the pair’s plans to operate Longship Marine on the water-facing side of the building, a massive events hall upstairs seems to be beckoning the owners to develop a gathering space.
Despite her childhood dream of living in a large, open, warehouse-type flat, Jensen said she feels compelled to share the space rather than develop it as a residence.
“Just in my heart I feel like this is supposed to be shared, this is for everyone, we are just the stewards that kind of help facilitate who’s going in there,” she explained. “Quite a few people have approached us about using the space and we just wish it was ready now, but it’s a year to two years off before we can have it ready for people to safely assemble in there according to the city.”
Wenholz and Jensen’s prior experience restoring boats appears to have tempered the shock anyone else might experience when staring down the prospect of spending multiple years working to restore a building that is quite literally older than sliced bread.
“We’ve done well with boats, we’ve done four or five serious boat projects together and that’s how we had the confidence to take this on,” Jensen said. “We know that even though it’s going to be challenging, it’s something we’re really capable of skill-wise.”
“And it’s rewarding,” added Wenholz. “We like to work with old stuff.”
As for Longship Marine’s storefront, Wenholz said the shop would be focusing a bit more on new gear for boaters.
“We’re not phasing out consignment, but we’re going to increase new [stock] and not focus so much on the consignment part of it,” Wenholz said. “We’re going to have more Grundens.”
“More sailing gear, new sailing gear,” Jensen added. “There’s certain things you just don’t want used.”
With that said, the owners also acknowledged that in order to maintain a key element of Longship Marine’s appeal, a line must be balanced between focusing on new products and delivering Longship’s characteristic shopping experience which has endeared it to many a salty seafarer.
“We want to keep the eclectic customer base, that’s why people come to our store, they never know what they’re going to find.” Jensen said. “We can’t get too generic selling only things people can easily get online. It has to be an experience.”
Jensen and Wenholz said that while they expected to continue working on the space for years to come, they hoped to have Longship Marine re-opened early next month.