By MARK ALAN LOVEWELL
Larry’s Tackle Shop has a new owner. He is the same guy who has been behind the counter and stocking the walls with fishing gear for years.
Steve V. Purcell has stepped from managing the store to owner and he did it with little fanfare back in March.
For him, this is the realization of a dream. Though he has managed the store for years, he has run it as though he owned it.
“I don’t know what I would have done without thinking about the store,” he said.
Mr. Purcell has followed the affairs of the store, its merchandise and customers for 20 years. There is fellowship in the store and plenty of opportunity for a few jabs of humor.
Larry’s Tackle Shop opened in 1947. It is one of the oldest continuing businesses in Edgartown. The shop has an unassuming presence on Upper Main street. It is a 6,000-square-foot showcase store on the right of the building that houses the much bigger Al’s Package Store.
The store has been at other locations. For years it was on the Edgartown waterfront. Twice it was at Depot Corner gas station. Mr. Purcell remembers working for Ruth Meyer when the store was at Depot Corner. He fished a lot and worked part time.
“I worked there for the discount. Working for Ruth helped to fund my interest in fishing,” he said, though he does recall a time when he owed her more money for fishing gear than he made in his paycheck.
Ms. Meyer sold the store in 1999. Mr. Purcell believes he is the fifth owner.
Peter A. Johnson of Vineyard Haven and New Hampshire bought the store in May of 2003. Mr. Purcell credits Mr. Johnson’s help for the sale. “Peter let me do what I wanted to do,” Mr. Purcell said. “I tried to run it the best I could, as though I owned it. Peter was my favorite boss. It was hands off. Every once in a while he would call me.”
Mr. Purcell has great memories of growing up and fishing as a child in Southborough.
“I went freshwater fishing,” he said.
While many of the kids were chased from fishing at the Sudbury reservoir, the young Mr. Purcell got away with it.
“My dad was a police officer,” Mr. Purcell said.
His introduction to saltwater fishing came from his Uncle Bill Adams, a commercial fisherman who fished out of Gloucester for striped bass, bluefish and giant tuna.
“He used to kidnap me when I was a kid. He’d ask: ‘You want to go fishing?’ We would go out two or three days for tuna. I was 13, 14 years old.” Mr. Purcell remains an avid offshore fisherman.
Today Mr. Purcell still does charter fishing trips. He owns a boat called Short Fuse, a 29-foot Angler, a center console fishing boat. He said he usually gets up at 6 in the morning, goes off and does a charter and steps into the store usually around 11 a.m. He doesn’t finish his day until 7 p.m. and he is asleep by 9 p.m.
It is a lot of work running a store that is open every day in the summer, but it is also a lot of fun. His coworkers give him a great deal of support. Among his loyal colleagues are Donald MacGillivray and Julian Pepper.
No one is talking about changing the name of the store from Larry’s to Steve’s. Mr. Purcell said there is just too much history and he has a high regard for the store’s founder, the late Larry Meyer.
Changes are ahead at the store. In the last four years, Mr. Purcell has added more sport to the store by including archery and hunting supplies. He has made sure the store carries low-end fishing gear along with the more expensive gear. A fishing reel can cost as little as $19 or as much as $700. Mr. Purcell has both, and some sports clothing as well.
Business is good, and the fishing is great. Mr. Purcell said there is a correlation.
“From year to year the store is busy all the way up through the derby in the fall,” he said. “With hunting, I’d be busy through to Dec. 31. I’d like to figure something I can do from Jan. 1 to April. I am open for ideas,” he said.
Soon after he acquired the store, Ruth Meyer came in and congratulated him.
She said: “Steve started working for me a long, long, long time ago. He is just a downright nice guy.”
Catch and Release
Last weekend, 217 fishermen participated in the 17th annual Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament. The fishermen hooked and released a total of 270 striped bass, well below last year’s tally of 484 striped bass.
Trophies and winners are as follows:
Roberto Germani Trophy, for the most striped bass caught and released by a team. Roberto Germani, an Island character, believed strongly in the philosophy of catch and release.
Winners were: 1.,Team Doublehaul (Eric Capulupo, Wilson Kerr, Clint Eiler, Chip Bergeron, 45 fish) 11.25 average; 2., Team Capawock (Phil Cronin, Jay Cronin, Jim Herbert, Gary Hoffman, Tom Fay, 35 fish) 7 average; 3., Team Finders Keepers (David Thompson, Paul Fiedler, 10 fish) 5 average.
Sonny and Joey Beaulieu Trophy, for the largest striped bass caught and released. Sony and Joey Beaulieu, father and son, died in a tragic boating accident along with Fred Loud and his son Adam.
The winner was Gary Mirando, 64 inches total length and girth (43 and 21 inches).
Arnold Spofford Trophy, for the most fish caught and released by a team using one fly. Arnold Spofford, fly fisherman and gentleman, made and sold a line of Spofford lures. He also was a co-founder of the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association.
Winners were: 1., Scare and Release (Jim Lepore, Ed Lepore, 13 fish), 6.5 fish average; 2., Rhody 1 (Tony DiRobbio, Ed Tatro, Jim Erhardt, Ron Cavalaro, 5 fish) 1.25 average; 3., Flock of Sigels (Tom Robinson, Nelson Sigelman, Jason Zimmer, Peter Duggan, Chris Newhall, 6 fish) 1.2 average.