A longtime business known for its support of the fishing community and the town is closing so the owners can enjoy retirement.
After more than 50 years in business, Blaine Marina is closing for good on Saturday, May 30. The Dodd family is known for being consummate entrepreneurs and it showed in their business, which not only sold fuel and supplies to fishing boats but just about anything else people in town needed, including furniture, appliances, floor coverings, groceries and hardware.
The business was founded by Harold “Bud” Dodd and his wife, Aleta, and has been operated since the mid-1980s by their sons, Mike and Steve. Mike Dodd said it was simply time to retire.
“We’re going to miss it. We made a lot of friends over the years,” Mike Dodd said. “I’ll especially remember the camaraderie with the fishing community and the residents.”
More importantly, the business and the Dodd family were well-known for their willingness to extend credit to those who didn’t have cash at the time, said Richard Sturgill, a longtime resident and captain of the Plover ferry that carries passengers between the Blaine marina and Semiahmoo. He remembers that if someone came into the store to talk to Bud Dodd and “looked honest,” a deal usually was reached with a handshake.
“It was an old-style way of running a business that was a great contribution to the community,” Sturgill said, noting Blaine has gone through several boom-and-bust times over the decades.
The store credit also extended to the commercial fishing community, which oftentimes needed supplies but wouldn’t have money until after the fish were caught. As a young man, Tom Burton arrived in Blaine and was hired on a fishing boat going to Alaska. It was his first commercial fishing experience and he had no clothing or money for such a trip. The boat owner told him to meet with Bud Dodd and get outfitted.
“Bud was the first guy I paid when I got back,” said Burton, who stayed in commercial fishing and went on to become mayor of Blaine in the early 1980s and was on the Whatcom County Council in the late 1980s. “Bud was a driver who pushed Blaine through the 1950s and ‘60s.” (Bud died in 2003.)
The store credit was a tradition Mike and Steve Dodd continued, with good success. It worked out fine 98 percent of the time, Mike Dodd said. Mike was usually the face of the business, while Steve was focused on delivering the products and helping unload fish, Sturgill said. Another key player in the business was Bill Beckett, a longtime employee who many in the Blaine fishing industry would remember as someone who also made sure the boats had fuel and unloaded the fish. He died in January 2014.
The Dodds were, and continue to be, very active in city government. Bud Dodd served as Blaine’s mayor, was on the city council and the Blaine school board. Mike Dodd has served on the Blaine school board since 1977, with his current term ending in December 2017. Steve Dodd has served on the Blaine City Council. Steve and Mike also have coached a variety of sports teams over the years.
The wide array of products sold at Blaine Marina started with Bud Dodd, who dabbled with plenty of ideas that had the potential to make money. At various points along the way he also sold insurance, cars and real estate, Mike Dodd said.
Sturgill said the closing of the Blaine Marina is the end of an era for him. He got his start in commercial fishing when he walked up to Bud Dodd in his fishing boots and asked if he could fish.
“The neighborhood just won’t be the same anymore,” Sturgill said. “I’m going to miss the place.”