By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN – Behind a locked door – to avoid being interrupted by customers; surely a first for a businessman – Jim Grogan spent Sunday packing up Nautical Impressions, the sea-themed shop on Updike Park that he’s operated for 14 years.
As rousing chanteys played in the background, he talked about the decision he and his wife, Dale, owner of The World Store whose entrance is directly opposite and only a few feet from his, had to make. “Our accountant said we’d just been put into a corner,” said Jim Grogan.
When Jim and Dale opened his-and-hers businesses together, he focused on the beautiful maritime objects and history he admires and she – being far ahead of her time – offered a store full of “green” products for the home that were chemical-free, all-natural and environmentally-friendly.
Today, Grogan starts a 50 percent-off sale to deplete the Nautical Impressions inventory as much as possible before the end of the month when he’ll close and move across the porch, consolidating his operation with his wife’s.
“It’s sad,” he said of the move. “It’s something we didn’t plan on. We hoped to be here for years to come. We’ll be out by Halloween.”
The Grogans felt a steep rent hike left them with no other option that made sense except merging their sister stores into a single entity.
“The economy isn’t up to [supporting] an almost 20 percent increase” on each of two stores, he explained. “We’re not bailing [on the village] by any means. We’re big proponents of Wickford.”
He said he plans to offer the most popular items from Nautical Impressions, including books on the sea and sailing, buoy bells and what he terms “quality tchotckes” for summer tourist mementoes, at the combined shop.
Dale will continue with teaching toys such as stuffed animals from the endangered list, nature books for children and adults on such topics as birding, star-gazing and seashell identification and the small-fry favorite – dinosaurs.
The current plan calls for a nautical display immediately inside the door near Dale’s small gurgling fountains.
“We’re calling [the redesigned gift shop] the World Store: Where the Earth Meets the Sea. That’s kind of Wickford.”
As if the professional upheaval weren’t enough, Jim’s elderly mother recently became ill, was hospitalized and relocated to a nursing home. He pointed out that for his packing exercise on Sunday he’d chosen to wear a Red Sox shirt.
“They’re having a worse year than me.”
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is a freelance writer for SRIN.