Looking down at the cavernous warehouse in the new Englund Marine Supply store, owner Jon Englund wondered how the shelves stocked with merchandise ever fit in the old store over the docks at the foot of 15th Street.
"Can you imagine all this was in that building?" he asked.
Englund was seven years old when his dad Axel built the first store, and said that while he is still getting used to the new place, "It's awfully nice."
After more than six decades in business in Astoria, Englund Marine can now spread out in a new, 40,000-square-foot facility at the base of Pier 3 at the Port of Astoria.
The store opened its doors Monday morning, welcoming customers to a retail space with shining hardwood floors, ceilings two stories high and walls with big windows looking out on the port and the river beyond. Fishing rods and reels and flashy lures are to one side, next to outdoor clothing. Ropes, deflated buoys, gloves of all sorts of strength and textures, fishing chairs, motor oil and all kinds of other maritime necessities are nearby. One row holds nothing but bolts and screws of all different sizes, organized and arranged in small blue bins.
Kurt Englund, vice president of the business and Jon's son, points to a display that will be wired to hold all the electronic equipment, and another shelf that will support a live radar and video feed to keep an eye on the area outside.
"By having more space, we're able to bring merchandise out and display it," Englund said. Tuesday, he was setting out bronze pumps that were in the warehouse at the old store - an example of "things we've always had that will appear new to some people," he said.
Having space will also allow the store to carry new items that might need to be in plain view in order to sell, he said.
Tweaking displaysEmployees will keep tweaking and redoing displays in the coming days, said Dave Green, a technical advisor who works in the retail section of the store.
"It's nice to have room to spread things out a bit," Green said, adding that it was "amazing to look at this and think that all of this was in that little store."
Customers have been struck by the new store as well, he said.
"It's fun to watch them come in, look around, and go 'Wow,'" he said.
Astoria fisherman Mark Bowers, shopping at the new store with his 9-year-old daughter Nicole, was very impressed.
"It's like Disneyland away from Disneyland," he said. "They did a fantastic job." Nicole noted the size difference: "The other store was kind of crammed," she said.
In addition to increasing its size, Englund Marine also increased the range of merchandise it sells and added to its name. The company owns Fisher Bros. Industrial, and will be moving that business into the Pier 3 facility later this month. Both businesses will now go by Englund Marine and Industrial Supply.
Overlooking the retail space are two floors of offices, storage areas and a conference room. In the back are a warehouse and workshops, including one 200-foot-long space that employees use to work with cables, ropes and wire for operations like trawl fishing and logging. There's also a shop for putting together hydraulic lines and a room for the welding gasses Fisher Bros. carries.
Better flowThe new layout and space provides a better flow to the building, Kurt Englund said, especially now that there are multiple exits and entrances and places for deliveries.
"We're not tripping over each other like we have in the past," he said, later showing a regular customer a side door that he could use in the summer to avoid the tourist crowd.
The store opened about 71/2 months after its groundbreaking last summer, and will probably have a grand opening in the spring once the Fisher Bros. merchandise is moved in and everything is settled, Englund said.
"From paper to reality, it's gone really well," he said.