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May 4, 2013

Three Lantern steps into fishing void

Parker Street shop aims to pick up where Winchester left off

For most of its 30-year existence, Winchester Fishing Co. on lower Washington Street was the one-stop shop for fishing and lobster gear.

But Dick Winchester sold the property a year ago and has retired, closing his doors for the last time last month.

Fear not fishermen of all kinds, stepping in to fill the void — and then some — is Gloucester’s largest and most diversified fishing and lobster gear business ever.

The Three Lantern Shop, the entrepreneurial dream come true for Skip Shepard after a long career in corporate America, replaced the Three Lanterns Shop last spring. — That dropped ‘s’ in ‘Lantern’ was an accident of corporate registration, and quite the exception for the hyper-precise and -organized Shepard, a native of the Bath, Maine area who has lived in Ipswich for 12 years.

But it was the closing of Winchester’s that pushed Shepard and his expansive shop — 3,200 square feet at the entrance to Parker Street — into the forefront.

The size of the business expands by about one half if one counts the Gloucester construction and warehouse facility of the Sea Rose Trap Co. The Scarborough, Maine-based company not only makes and repairs lobster traps, replacing Winchester’s essential service to the commercial and recreational lobsters, but also — using the same materials — makes furniture, creating the sense of rocking back and forth in a chair that seems to have morphed from a trap.

Shepard exhibits a penchant for inclusion, exemplified by the fusion of space for an independent lobster trap building and repair operations. After he bought out Mike Parisi, Shepard set about creating the most diverse fishing tackle business the city has ever known, an ultra modern, example of a business that has tended from dusty to quaint.

A mid-20th century example of the latter was Gleason’s bait and tackle shop on Washington Street just north of Whittemore Street, presided over by the late George Gleason.

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