BY SCOTT FEIERSTEIN
Just a few days before Christmas, it was reported that the owner of the Chequit, the Soloviev Group, had purchased Jack’s Marine for $3.8 million.
A little over 20 years ago, I started coming to the Island to be with my wife, Kimberley, and her family on weekends.
Around that time, her family, the Anglins, had a fire in their store, Jack’s Marine. They were devastated, to say the least. When I arrived the first time, Kim took me to see the fire-damaged store, and then over to the trailers that they had set up to work out of.
The amount of stress that they went through was incredible, but they still managed to get those trailers set up. It was wonderful to see they were actually busy, with the community supporting them during this crisis.
When I started dating my wife, her grandfather had already passed away six months earlier. From what I’ve heard about Jack over the years, he was a special man. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like him. Anyone who new Jack probably has a story, or an image of him in his one-piece jumper. I was particularly lucky to knew his better half really well.
Grandma (Dotty/Dorothy) was very special to me, treating me like her own grandson. I have many wonderful memories of road trips together, hours doing puzzles and playing cards, and so many other happy times spent with her.
Jack and Dotty started Jack’s Marine in 1944 and it soon became an Island icon. Both of their children grew up spending many hours at the store, as did Camille’s daughters, Kim and Amber.
Years later, Camille and Michael came back to New York from California to help run the business and began to make it their own. When Camille had the idea to make Jack’s partly a toy store, the inner circle was skeptical.
The idea came from Camille’s need to get toys for her own girls, and soon turned the toy area into the happiest section of the store. Toys became a big part of their success as they took the store into a new era. Personally, I always considered Jack’s to be a toy store for all ages — including me!
Michael and Camille worked hard, seven days a week, for a long time. During mooring season, Michael would be out on the water for 12 hours a day. I can still smell the stink on his clothes and his body as he entered through the kitchen door into the laundry room to disrobe.
Though it wasn’t the best smell, it was always funny to get a whiff as he pretended to touch us with his stinky hands on the way to the shower. We had the honor of smelling it one last time this year when, in his 70s, he had to go back out on the water to finish up for a sick employee.
Twelve months of the year, Jack’s was open to the public, with the rare exception when Camille and Michael decided to take some vacation time.
I’m so glad my kids will have memories of the family business. From fishing off the docks with their grandfather, sleeping in the store with their mother, Kimberly, running lemonade stands in the driveway, going for rides on the barge, riding in the dumbwaiter up and down, and running through the aisles playing tag. Jack’s was a big part of all of our lives.
For me, the store was an extension of our home. I spent hours having breakfasts, lunches, and those delicious peanut butter cookies that Joanne used to make. When I started a little summer business during college, Michael and Camille let me use the store to build long-board skateboards in the back, and in the stock area upstairs when it rained.
I got to dress as Batman, Spider Man, and Star Wars’ characters during the holiday season, and take photos with happy children as they came in to make their Christmas lists. Before my children came around, I was the guy that Camille would give new toys to figure out and test. Lucky me.
It’s hard to believe Jack’s isn’t a part of our family any longer, and I won’t be popping in to visit my in-laws. But I’m grateful to be lucky to have Jack’s as part of my life for over 20 years. I know that for Michael and Camille, selling Jack’s was bittersweet, but they’ve earned their time in the sun.
I’m looking forward to seeing them enjoying the next chapters of their lives.