Joe and Alison Elder, dealers of nautical antiques, art, and furniture, have moved their business, Skipjack Marine Gallery, to Round Pond after 17 years in Virginia.
The showroom features furniture and home decor made from salvaged ship parts, like tables made from ship grates and lampshades made from nautical charts, as well as model ships, paintings, sculptures, wood carvings, and gifts.
Skipjack formally opened Friday, Sept. 11, cutting a ceremonial ribbon with representatives of the Damariscotta Region Chamber of Commerce.
Although some of Skipjack’s customers are collectors, most are just regular people decorating their homes, Alison Elder said.
The Elders have always shared a love for marine artifacts — when they met in 2000, they were both marine archaeological divers. Alison Elder said they were both at professional crossroads, and the time was right to start a business together.
The couple started their business in 2003 in Virginia Beach, where they struggled to find a market. “There were a lot of tourists, but we aren’t a T-shirts and souvenirs place,” Alison Elder said.
They moved to Portsmouth, Va. in 2005 and moved between storefronts there before relocating to Maine in February 2020. For the Elders, the transition felt natural. “Our look has always been more traditional New England,” Alison Elder said.
“We’ve hit the lottery,” she said. “It’s the perfect place for us. The area is authentic.”
Some of their most popular pieces are folk art by Jac and Patricia Johnson, a Virginia couple whose carved whales and mermaids decorate the Skipjack showroom. The Elders commissioned a series of Atlantic puffin carvings to sell in Maine.
They have also added throw blankets featuring maps of the Maine coast to their inventory.
In addition to art and handcrafted furniture, the Elders sell historical pieces, from a World War II U.S. Navy sextant to a 19th-century spyglass. Alison Elder said they usually acquire historical pieces one at a time, but sometimes a collection will come to them.
“Since we’ve been around for a while, people have started coming to us,” she said.
Skipjack Marine Gallery is open year-round by appointment at 1172 State Route 32 in Round Pond. The gallery has an online store at skipjackmarinegallery.com, which has become a large part of the business.