Tidal Creeks Ship Store To Close In October Amid Hard Feelings

Jason Graziadei •

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The Tidal Creeks Ship Store on Washington Street announced this week that it will be closing by the end of October, and the shuttering of the only full-service marine store on Nantucket Harbor is happening with hard feelings among those involved.

The closure will come just three years after store owner Mike Allen took over the Brant Point Marine business at 32 Washington Street in late 2020 from Rick Kotalac, who owns the waterfront property.

“We were forced to not continue,” said Allen, who cited a breakdown in communication with Kotalac. “It’s a bummer. I don’t know what’s going to happen down there.”

The closing of the store is a loss for the community on several fronts, Allen said. Not only is the island losing the only full-service marine store on the harbor, but it's losing a local family who had poured their hearts and souls into the business. Noah and Lindsay Gerstmyer, who Allen had tapped to run the store, will now be leaving the island and returning to Maryland.

“The big loss is for Nantucket, to lose yet another great family,” Allen said. “And the boating community is also the big loser in this.”

Allen told the Current that when he took over the business from Kotalac, they inked a three-year “trial period” lease, and had a handshake agreement on a six- to nine-year extension. Both he and the Gerstmyers poured money, time, and resources into the business and renamed it the Tidal Creeks Ship Store after Allen’s boat-building business. But Allen said last year his relationship with Kotalac and his hope to extend the lease fell apart.

“He (Rick) came to me last summer saying that he was worried about the (town’s) coastal resilience plan and that it didn’t show his building on there and thought he should sell before it was a problem,” Allen said. “Last November before he went to Costa Rica, we had a meeting and he told me he was not going to be renewing the lease and selling to the Land Bank. He asked me to sign a release of a lot of my rights to the existing lease, which I did not do. I told him I didn’t like his plan, but I kind of understood it. I didn’t think it was good business. I asked to be a tenant at will, but he said the deal with the Land Bank was imminent. We were going to be out, and he said the Land Bank could not have tenants in the building.”

Allen said he was later informed by a person associated with the Land Bank that a deal to sell the property at 32 Washington Street was not happening, that the Land Bank was no longer interested, and negotiations had ceased.

“When we took over the store from Rick and Melanie (Kotalac) it was hugs and kisses and everything was great,” Allen said. “Now neither of them will even talk or approach me. I don’t know what happened and I don’t know what the outcome will be.

“It’s a shame two island guys who have known each other a long time are head-butting each other on this,” Allen added. “But sometimes that’s business.”

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Kotalac was reluctant to comment on the future of the store and the property but did share a few details and his perspective on the situation.

“You’ll find out in about a month or so,” Kotalac said of the fate of the property. “Mike Allen has an opinion and a one-sided, wrong story in my mind. The truth will come out in about a month. But there will be a store there. I’ve lived on Nantucket my whole life and there’s always different opinions and the rumor mill gets going.”

At the store on Tuesday morning, Noah Gerstmyer was behind the register helping customers and initially declined to comment, but later sent the Current a message about the situation. It read in part:

"Regarding my last three summers on the waterfront representing Tidal Creeks. It has been my pleasure to help meet the needs of the people that take advantage of this great resource; Nantucket Harbor and surrounding waters. For me it has always been about the people and trying to provide a level of service that is unmatched all while creating a unique and a memorable experience...While we thought that the foundation that we were building upon was solid it is terribly troubling that this agreement has not been upheld. Besides the commitment of time, money and effort… at the end of the day what else do we have; our word? I am a believer that if you tell someone you are going to do something you better follow through regardless of extenuating circumstances. Certainly, change happens as that is part of life but I call into question what has happened here."

Read Gerstmyer's full message here. 

“It’s a real bummer,” Allen continued. “We feel like Noah has done an outstanding job and given the community a nice place to get marine and beach supplies and the boat rental business. All of that’s going away. I, unfortunately, can’t put any more energy into that retail business. I’ve got to focus on boat-building and services.”

Allen’s Tidal Creeks Boat Works business is continuing at 58 Bunker Road.

Some of the island’s boating community expressed dismay on Tuesday over the announcement that the Tidal Creeks Ship Store would end its run in October.

“It was awesome having a ship store in town that we could walk to just like the (former Nantucket Ship) Chandlery,” said Brian Borgeson, captain and owner of the Absolute Sportfishing charter boat. “Having a place to get a dropped-over knife or a deck brush handle was nice. That place was a disaster before Tidal Creeks took over now it’s nice to have an organized place to get boating supplies. It’s a bummer it’s gonna be gone.”

Another charter boat captain, Carl Bois, owner of the Topspin, shared a similar sentiment.

"It is extremely unfortunate to have Tidal Creeks close," Bois told the Current. "The crew of Tidal Creeks and the ship store itself will both be a loss to the community. To not have access to equipment when something needs repair unexpectedly on the waterfront and active harbor - not only will it be missed but it could be problematic to have to wait for parts or necessary equipment. Having the store was not only super helpful to the boating community but it provided jobs to locals. I hate to see Noah and his family leave the island. I was always greeted with a smile. This place is more than a store. They were part of the boating community. I am really bummed and I wish the situation would change."

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