MOORESVILLE – Eric Scott said the building that was once FatBoys’ Restaurant off River Highway was a “disaster” when he bought it.
“It was a burnt-down restaurant that was not even boarded up,” Scott said. “So you can imagine what’s been living in here and what’s been going on in here.”
Scott said he was “beyond” intimidated to take on the project.
But despite the difficult start, it was worth it to him and his family to start their business – Carolina Water Sports and Marine – at that location.
“I could have done it cheaper, but I wanted to be here for the long haul,” Scott said.
Having a watercraft and accessories business that isn’t on the water can offer a number of advantages, he said.
“You can expand bigger away from the water,” Scott said. “You can have bigger showrooms, bigger yards and show more boats.”
Customers are still able to test out boats before they buy them, he said, as they just have to hitch it to a vehicle and bring it a mile down the road to the water.
“By the time you can take a forklift and put the boat in the water, it’s the same amount of time,” Scott said, referencing some waterside facilities where boats are hauled from showrooms or storage racks down to the water.
There was an option to be on the water, but that location was “off the beaten path.” So Scott and his sons – Cody and Jake – took a vote and decided to choose the old FatBoys’ Restaurant location.
“Because we’ll get so much more traffic,” Scott said.
He’s already been amazed by the amount of people – he estimates thousands – who have been to the store in the few weeks it’s been open.
“It’s been an overwhelming feeling of the way the community has embraced us and is buying off of us,” Scott said. “They’re liking our product. And they’re seeming to like us.”
The dealership carries a full line of boats from manufacturers like Centurion, Supreme, Berkshire Pontoons, Blackfin, Monterey, Bryant and Statement. New and pre-owned boats are available and the business also carries a complete collection of watersport accessories.
Scott said some of the store’s visitors have come to see what became of the once-popular restaurant.
“I can’t tell you how many policemen stopped in and were blown away with the facility and loving it,” Scott said. “(They) have been coming in and saying, ‘We used to have to come in here and chase people out from doing bad things in here.’”
He said the overall impression he’s gotten is that people are happy he’s in town.
“So that’s why I’m truly liking where we are,” Scott said. “And hopefully it stays this way.”
Looking forward, he envisions building another showroom space in the lot which he already owns behind his current store.
“And we’re also probably going to do an indoor surf park,” Scott said. “You ever see the surfing on the cruise ships? … It’ll be exactly what you see on the cruise ships.”
He said he wanted to give kids something to do year-round.
“So whenever they’re bored,” Scott said, “in the middle of the winter, they can come surf when it’s rainy out or cold out.”
Scott owned a marina in Long Island, N.Y., for 30 years before moving with his family to Mooresville.
“So whatever I do, I stay there for a long time,” Scott said. “Most people after 30-plus years … (are) ready for retirement. I’m starting a whole new venture.”