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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

14 September 2013

❖ MARINE SUPPLY AND HARDWARE ❖ Rags to Riches in Heritage and History

Words by Bonnie Graham McDade for the former Washington State Ferries publication Enetai, 14 January 1983.
Marine Supply and Hardware,
Commercial Street, Anacortes, WA.
Web photo by Elizabeth K posted in 2012.
Mural art by Bill Mitchell.


"Steve Demopoulos, has taken the heritage his Greek grandfather built and is revitalizing one of the most intriguing 'discoverable' historic businesses in the Pacific Northwest.
      If you could stand behind the ancient cash register––it doesn't even ring up sales tax––your feet would settle into the furrows made by thousands of impressions on the equally ancient, oiled oak floors where clerks have helped customers pay for their wares during the past [100] plus years at Marine Supply and Hardware in Anacortes.
Making our way in the late morning fog still held heavy to the ground by the wintery idiosyncracies of a coastal fishing town, the wide sidewalk leading toward the Anacortes marinas at the north end of Commercial Street are stirring, low, whistles booming through the seemingly softened air. The historic old rambling building hugs the earth as it undulates over the expanse of its entire city block resting place. Resplendent in a new coat of burnt orange paint and yellow trim, following the same intricate detailing put there many years ago by its charismatic owner Mike Demopoulos, the grande dame of the Washington fishing fleets northern reaches, is taking on yet another spurt of renewed energy.
When Mike Demopoulos made his way from Greece to the furthest reaches of the then US--Anacortes, Washington--Marine Hardware was not even a glint in his eye. It grew, however, from the glint that became the Anacortes Junk Co, named apparently after a courageous and energetic Mike, dubbed by the locals 'Junky Mike.' Picking up all sorts of flotsam and jetsam in and around Anacortes (he even used to take the horse and cart all the way along Reservation and Snee-Oosh roads into LaConner and back, picking up any kind of junk he though somebody would want). His junk company grew and grew.
And his philosophy still lives on.
Grandson Steve Demopoulos, new owner of the shop, remembers his cantankerous and tough grandfather telling him, 'It's only junk, until someone needs it."
And who can scoff at that reasoning. The modern-day garage sale speaks to it with ever-recurring frequency.
It was Mike Demopoulos who opened his junk company near the Anacortes waterfront and became the friend and benefactor of most the northern coast fishing fleet. If Anacortes is nothing else, it is indeed a fishing capital of this particular PNW and its colorful fishing fleet, still very much in existence today, was the mainstay of that economy at the turn of the century.
It was Mike Demopoulos, born in the tiny Greek town of Bralos––about 70-miles north of Athens––who immigrated to the US at age 17. He spoke no English, and when a policeman in Portland, OR, heard him speak, he steered the young Mike to a Greek restaurant where he started his new life.
'All Greeks work in a restaurant sometime in their lives,' laughed Steve.
Mike worked his way up the coast to British Columbia doing almost any kind of job there was available. When he settled in Anacortes, he was experienced, spoke English some, and ready to take on the world.
Starting with what most see as a pile of scrap, Mike Demopoulos bought and sold his way to a minor fortune. Some people say he owned almost all of Anacortes before he died--summer of 1980.
And by the looks of the insides of Marine Supply and Hardware, he bought and sold just about everything else, too.
A trip through the store is an antique buff's dream, a do-it-yourselfers haven, and a walk back through history that will tickle even the most hardened of souls.
In a building that grew like topsy, with add-ons, and more add-ons, where the floors sag in places, the lights hang from single cords, and winds blow through the cracks in the walls, there is very little you can't find.
Today, Steve is organizing what is there. And what is there is worth a whole day of just digging through.
It's a literal museum of 'good stuff'. Mike was a past master at buying surplus––especially government surplus, just about the best you could get. And much of that surplus is still there. Like lots and lots of old wooden nail kegs, barrels, and barrels of different sized and same sized washers, nuts and bolts. Wandering back through the gerrymandered warehouse, there are old seamen’s lamps hanging on the wall, blocks of every size and description.
'You're looking at my granddad', says Steve, a bit wistfully, a bit proud, and with a lot of that Greek fortitude, obviously passed to him through the generations.
From the five-gallon cans of Knickerbocker Pure Penn-Perafin Motor Oil (where the can itself is probably worth as much today as the oil inside in sheer nostalgic value) through miles of the 'the best ropes in town,' to the Home-Laughlin heavy-duty china, it's really a truism what the sign says--'ask for it, we've got it."
     A link to Marine Supply and Hardware, Anacortes, WA., can be seen here

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