KODIAK — After 43 years in business, Cy’s Sporting Goods is no longer operating in the city of Kodiak.
On Thursday, owner Cy Hoen closed a deal to sell his green-painted store on Mill Bay Road to the Kodiak Island Brewing Company. Cy’s was the oldest sporting goods business in the city of Kodiak.
Through much of the store’s final week, employees and Hoen family members loaded stock and decorations into a convoy of pickup trucks running between the Mill Bay Road store and a new, smaller location in Bell’s Flats. Hoen said the move to a downsized store is the first step toward retirement and will allow him more time with his boat and family. For many of Cy’s customers, who thought of themselves as family, the closure is a disappointment.
“Holy cow,” said Del Masterhan, who walked into the vacant storefront Thursday afternoon. “This place looks so much bigger now without all the stuff.”
Masterhan, who has lived in Kodiak for six years, said Cy’s has been an important part of his life and he’s sorry to see it go.
“So that’s the end of this operation now, the end of an era,” he said.
Mike Horstman, a Kodiak bear hunting guide who has operated in Alaska since the early 1980s, spent most of the past week helping Hoen pack up his store. A longtime shopper and Hoen friend, Horstman said he remembers the days “B.C.” — before cellphones.
“Back then, it was PAF — pay after fishing. You didn’t have money until the fishing was done,” he said. Now, credit cards fill that role.
For tourist anglers, too, the game has changed.
“I don’t know if it was the difference between the dollar and the ruble or what, but you’d have fishermen fly in and just buy everything here and go fishing. Then, because it was all used and smelled of fish, even, they didn’t have to pay duties on it when they flew home,” Horstman said. “Come naked and bring your checkbook is what we’d say.”
When Cy Hoen arrived in Kodiak in 1960, he had more in common with those “naked” fishermen than the established businessman he is today. Deployed to Kodiak with the U.S. Navy, Hoen expected to leave the service soon afterward. Instead, the Cuban Missile Crisis intervened and his tour of duty was extended.
By the time of the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, he was out of the Navy and working in the Kodiak Commercial Company. That was followed by stints in an outboard motor shop and with Norm Sutliff’s True Value Hardware, where he honed his sales skills.
“I had some pretty good trainers,” he said.
By the late 1960s, Hoen was ready to strike out on his own. He approached Bob Hall of Kodiak Airways and asked for permission to set up a small sporting goods store in the airway’s building on Near Island Channel. Hoen had grown up selling sporting goods in Montevideo, Minn., and wanted to continue the tradition.
Hall was initially reluctant but later agreed, and in 1969, Hoen opened his first Cy’s Sporting Goods office.
“It wasn’t much more than a counter and a half with some guns hanging in the back,” he said.
With easy access to tourists using Kodiak Airways’ floatplanes, business flourished and he began searching for a new location. After some shopping around, he settled on a location next to Sutliff’s True Value, the site today occupied by the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center.
For more than 30 years, Hoen worked out of that location, selling to locals and tourists alike.
“He’d get people from all over the world to come outfit themselves for fishing,” Horstman said.
After the turn of the century, Cy’s Sporting Goods moved into the shop on Mill Bay Road, and Hoen continued to expand until he owned the entire building, which also housed a Taco Del Mar and karate studio when he arrived.
Now, the sporting goods store is headed to Bell’s Flats and a location next to the AC store on Russian Creek Road. Hoen said he has promised his employees at least two years of wages, “and if they stick with it, maybe I’ll turn the store over to them then,” he said.
As Hoen unpacks his things in Bell’s Flats, new building owner and Kodiak Island brewmaster Ben Millstein will be inspecting his new purchase and beginning to prepare the structure for an extensive renovation.
“It’s going to be kind of complicated,” he said. “It’s not just moving goods.”
Millstein said the process of moving from his Shelikof Street location to the site on Mill Bay Road is still being worked out, but it isn’t likely to happen for a few months.
“That’s really unknowable at this point,” he said.
In Bell’s Flats, Hoen will continue to sell sporting goods to people heading out to road system rivers and to online customers. The store isn’t going away just yet, he said; he’ll just use the opportunity to have a little more fun on the island.
“I haven’t even used (my) boat all that much,” he said.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at email@example.com.