“What a neat store…” announced a woman as her eyes gazed the aisles, seemingly unconscious of her own words. I have a smiliar thought
every time I visit. My grandfather used to take me along when he needed something for the Ebb Tide, Anacortes was a frequent stop on our cruises up north. As I became older I always found myself stopping into see my favorite hardware store. These walls have some stories, I decided to ask if they would share a few.
How will the moves and decisions you make affect your grandchildren? I wonder if that thought ever entered Efthemios Demopoulos’ mind when he left Greece and eventually arrived in Portland, Oregon as a 17 year old young man.
That is where the story of Anacortes’ Marine Supply & Hardware Company begins. Efthemios “Mike” Demopoulos emigrated from Greece in 1906 on advice that there was opportunity in Portland. He arrived in Maine and realized that he was supposed to be on the other side of the continent. He eventually reached Oregon and worked there laying pipe in the development of Portland, Oregon. Later that year he moved to Tacoma, Washington for the same kind of work when he heard about a town further north that was booming.
Mike arrived in Anacortes in 1907 and began to do more pipe work and other odd jobs when he saw an opportunity to collect and re-use materials left over from the booming construction in the area. In 1910 he started the “Anacortes Junk Company”. The fishing industry was booming as well, shipyards and maritime activity was growing rapidly. In 1913 the company became “Marine Supply & Hardware”. It built a new storfront on what is now Commercial Street (the old Anacortes Junk Co.’s building is still standing, located right behind the current store). The store prospered and Mike started to purchase land in and around Anacortes. When The Depression hit he acquired more land due to all of the foreclosures that were occurring. At one point he owned about half of what is now downtown Anacortes in addition to the land that is now the current Washington State Ferry Dock.
In 1926 the Demopoulos’ had their third child, a son, Themo. He worked for his father as a kid up until the United States took him off to fight in World War II. After the war Themo went to the University of Washington on the G.I. Bill and earned a degree in accounting. He went to work for the State Department of Revenue for many years.
Over the years the store has been a vital cog in the maritime industry for local boats as well as the transient vessels passing through. In 1938 the United States Coast Guard…
“Appointed Agent status to Marine Supply and Hardware at Anacortes, Washington for the sale of Charts, Coast Pilots and Tide Tables.”
After WWII, the store acquired a staggering amount of surplus from the government. There are still cases and cases of anything and everything in the bowels of the store. As the sign says… Ask for it, We Have it.
In 1951, Themo’s son Steve was born. Steve grew up in Anacortes, constantly boating, hunting, fishing and camping all over the Anacortes area and the San Juans. Grandpa had an old wooden yacht, dad had boats too, and Steve himself always had a boat of some kind or another. He went to Anacortes High and still lives in town today. On his father’s advice Steve did not go to work for grandpa in the family store. AS Steve put it, his grandfather was a pretty stern taskmaster. Steve was always around the water, he started working for the Washington State Ferries in 1968 while still in high school, working there for 16 years until 1984.
Efthemios Demopoulos past away in the 1970’s leaving his store to his second wife. She decided to sell the store in 1981 in a sealed bid. Themo and Steve collaborated on a bid to buy the store. As fate would have it, they won.
Steve Demopoulos has been running the family store since 1984. He describes it as a labor of love, a vital part of his heritage. For the first several years it was a struggle, it took time to revitalize the business that had fallen on hard times. Since the early 1990’s it returned to being a thriving business.
Marine Supply & Hardware describes itself as “A Unique Supplier to Industry, Builders, Fisherman & Boats, specializing in Wooden Boat Supplies”. That doesn’t begin to describe all the things you can find in this place. There is a big selection of brass and stainless hardware, crab pots, chart books, bulk line… again, the sign says… “Ask For It, We Have It,” honestly? They probably do.
When you are in Anacortes, walk up Commercial Street and visit Marine Supply and Hardware, it truly has something for every boater, at least that’s what the walls told me.