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Young professionals chart a course to business ownership

Monday, May 1, 2017

By: Natasha Marar, Business Advisor

A Tecumseh couple is trading in 9-to-5 for entrepreneurship as the new owners of established marine supply and swimwear stores Dan’s Nautical Shop and Simply Swimwear.

Leaving behind jobs in commercial finance and human resources, respectively, husband and wife team Chris Courey, 31, and Kaitlyn Courey, 29, jumped on-board an opportunity to take over the Riverside Drive shops that have served the Windsor-Essex boating community since 1981.

Chris and Kaitlyn have worked alongside current owners Dan and Claire Denomme — working in the stores and attending tradeshows together — in preparation for fully taking over the business this September. The Denommes are retiring from the business but will continue to mentor the Coureys.

“[The Denommes] have a passion for their business … they obviously want the businesses to be successful,” said Kaitlyn.  “The mentorship in this opportunity was huge for us.”

“The ideal for us is to make this a really smooth transition that’s not going to rock the boat in terms as changes for customers … it’s what they’ve come to know and expect in terms of products and customer service,” she added.

Chris, an avid boater and longtime customer of Dan’s Nautical Shop, said the opportunity to take over an existing business rather than start their own provided many benefits.

“The advantage is we have an existing customer base … Starting from scratch, in this particular industry, we would have to compete with two very experienced individuals (Dan and Claire Denomme) so that would have been a challenge to convince those customers that we have something to offer that they don’t,” he said. “And then developing those supplier relationships and connections … [we may not have been] successful in securing those product lines.”

Dan’s Nautical Shop features products for boats and watersports, including maintenance and repair items and motors. It is also a dealer for Achilles Boats and offers products from 25 suppliers. Simply Swimwear, located next door, is a year-round bathing suit store that carries women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing. It offers fitting consultations for women and suits sized 4-26, as well as specialized post-mastectomy and cup-size suits.

The businesses are ideally located between six separate marinas and two yachting clubs at 12237 Riverside Drive East in Tecumseh.

“We’re looking to carry on the business they’ve developed and grown over the years, but also introduce our own twist and flavour by launching an e-commerce platform and [using] technology to diversify our sales beyond the local area,” said Chris.

Dan’s Nautical Shop website,, will relaunch in early May with an online store featuring marine supplies. Kaitlyn said they are also looking to “amplify” social media marketing efforts.

Kaitlyn and Chris Courey are WindsorEssex Small Business Centre clients that received training, mentorship and $5,000 through the Starter Company program. You, too, can receive support in launching or expanding your small business. Contact the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre for more information.