Years ago, whenever Peter Sliwkowski traveled near the ocean for business as part of the leadership team of Progress Software Corporation, a leading global supplier of business technology, he packed away a fishing rod and built in some time to fish. Sitting at his desk, the avid fisherman said he often imagined what it would be like to own a tackle shop.
On Monday, Mr. Sliwkowski and his wife, Melissa, purchased Larry’s Tackle Shop on Upper Main Street in Edgartown, first opened in 1947 by Larry Myers in the location now occupied by Depot Corner gas station, and run for years by Larry’s daughter Ruth.
Steve Purcell, who has owned the shop since 2008 and managed it prior to that, plans to move to western Mass where he will manage farm properties for a boyhood friend and switch his attention from fishing to hunting. The affable and always helpful Mr. Purcell leaves a loyal clientele and a core staff that Mr. Sliwkowski said will provide a solid foundation upon which to grow his new business.
This week, Mr. Sliwkowski marked the change with a 20 percent off sale for everything in the store. “People love fishing stuff for the holidays,” he said.
In 2000, the Sliwkowskis purchased property on Chappaquiddick, noted for its wonderful shore fishing and beaches. In 2014, with both of their children out of college the couple moved from Sudbury to the small island and became full-time residents. Mr. Sliwkowski, 50 and retired, began working as a shore fishing guide. Conversations with Steve Purcell about how he might grow his business soon led to an invitation to Mr. Sliwkowski to purchase the shop.
An ardent shore fisherman, he participates in the Bass and Bluefish Derby and the spring Catch and Release tournament. He also continues to travel the world to fish: this month he’s heading to Christmas Island in the Pacific.
Mr. Sliwkowski said he looks forward to working with his wife, who has experience in retail sales. Asked about changes down the road, he said, “I have a saying, people don’t hate change, they hate loss.”
He expects to add to the product line, add some fishing clothing and custom rods. He outlined three primary goals: spruce up the store to create a world-class environment; provide a great selection; and make sure everyone has a great customer experience.
Building on his software background, in the future he also plans to revamp the website and be active on Facebook, providing up-to-date fishing reports and photos.
“Steve built a great foundation and a great reputation,” he said. “We’re just taking what he’s done to the next level.”
Asked why he would want to ruin a perfectly good retirement by purchasing a tackle shop, Mr. Sliwkowski said, “I’m an avid fisherman but it’s kind of weird — ten years ago in my corner office I had said, ‘Someday, I’m going to own a tackle shop on the Vineyard and that’s what I’m going to end up doing.’
“I would say, I’m not retired — work is optional.”