Mt. Pleasant fishing for new use for tackle shop

Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park’s River Watch Cafe & Gift Shop could become another type of business.

MOUNT PLEASANT — The bait, tackle and snack shop occupying a prime spot at the entrance to this town’s Memorial Waterfront Park and Pier might be replaced one day soon.

Town Councilman Chris Nickels said the current bait and tackle shop is underused and a different kind of business might make the popular park even more popular.

“It’s an incredibly unique location,” he said. “It now has free parking, and we should see what else could go there.”

Nickels said Monday that he, Town Administrator Eric DeMoura and Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission Executive Director Tom O’Rourke recently met to talk about the pier shop.

The county operates the shop and fishing pier at the town’s request, but the town owns the property. Nickels said the shop currently loses more than $150,000 per year.

O’Rourke said that figure not only includes the income and expenses of the shop but also other maintenance staff, utilities and other costs for running the park and pier.

The town’s Public Services Committee agreed Monday that the county would seek ideas and proposals for other businesses, such as bistros, restaurants, coffee shops or something else.

O’Rourke said he is open to ideas that would improve the shop, but he was not sure how much that might cost. He also questioned whether a coffee shop would work there.

“People don’t want worms next to their latte,” he said. “Leather couches, Internet, worms, those are different things.”

DeMoura said that process of seeking ideas about the shop will help as the town plans for the park’s next phase of development.

That phase, expected to begin next year and to cost about $1.5 million, involves more playground equipment, extending a waterfront path toward Patriots Point and possible changes to the grassy parking area.

Councilwoman Thomasena Stokes-Marshall said it was “a wonderful idea” to consider a new use for the shop.

Nickels said it will take time for the county and town to get feedback and figure out whether to make a change. The Park and Recreation Commission might remain involved — or not, he added.

“Nothing will happen tomorrow or next week,” Nickels said.

If the bait and tackle shop is closed, DeMoura said fishing wristbands, tackle and other items could be sold at the town’s Visitors Center, which is located closer to the parking lot, about 100 yards away.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.