15 June 2006

Fish Nut Alert: Your Secret Clubhouse Is Moving

The Curbed website tells us that the Capital Fishing Tackle Company, which has been in the same storefront next to the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street since 1962, and actually counts its New York days back to 1897, must close and relocate to W. 36th Street because the hotel wants to install a large retail concern there.

Does this sadden me? Well, yes, in principle, though I have to say fishing is not my thing, and I've never gone in the place. Do New Yorkers fish? Maybe those forlorn creatures angling off the Coney Island pier get their stuff here. Looking at pictures, it's a grand old place to eyeball. Beautiful old green-and-red neon sign. Display windows on either side of a recessed entrance full to rods and reels and such. They apparently have thousands of hooks and lures to choose from, which I guess makes sense, since there are thousands of kinds of fish.

Hopefully they will retain some of this feeling on 36th Street. This will be the fourth location for the business. It actually began back in 1862 in Germany. (Do Germans fish? Who fishes? Please tell me.) It moved to New York in 1897 and to its Chelsea location in 1962. Richard Collins, a former salesman, now owns the store.

In a recent Field & Stream profile of the place (they would profile it, wouldn't they?), John Martinez, a part-timer, expressed amazement that anybody (like me, I guess he means) would be amazed that Manhattan could sustain such a tackle shop. “Look at the map,” he said. “There’s water all around us.” Dude's got a point, except that much of that water contains fish nobody in their right mind would eat.

The article also said Capital gets a lot of foreign tourists, because tackle is as expensive as truffles and saffron in Europe. (What? Why? "OK, Rolf, we've only got 24 hours in New York. You buy the blue jeans and cigarettes. I'll get the fishing tackle.") Apparently the The Sultan of Brunei, a saltwater angler, stopped by for a shopping spree years ago. His Uzi-bearing guards shut down the place while he browsed. OK, so now we know who fishes. Sultans. That's who. Other regulars are given nicknames by shop workers. A few: the Professor, Crazy Mike, Kevin the Axe Murderer, Construction Sam, Bass and Lithium. OK. Sultans and nutjobs. That's who fishes. Yikes! Maybe it's a good thing I never went in. Still, I'm glad these people have someplace to go. Otherwise, they'd be on the street.

1 comment:

AHCB said...

All of us here at the Chelsea Hotel are concerned about what this announcement holds for the future of our block.