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David Fritsch Jr., Who Operated The Costume Shop In Manchester, Dies At 81

David Fritsch Jr., who helped operated of The Costume Shop in Manchester and was a licensed boat captain, died March 10. He was 81.

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Fritsch was raised in West Hartford and lived in Manchester for more than 25 years. He was married to his wife, Joanne, for 52 years. Together they had three children, Susan Vollenweider, David Fritsch III and Stephen Fritsch.

For more than 20 years the elder Fritsch worked with early versions of computers for the Travelers Insurance Co. He held various positions in the data processing department during a time where mainframes took up entire rooms. He’d work on implementing applications and software.

After retiring from Travelers, he joined his wife at The Costume Shop in Manchester. The family opened the business in 1975. It was initially located in a building at the corner of Woodbridge Street and Middle Turnpike East. They eventually moved it to 253 Broad St. before liquidating the business in 2000.

The business primarily made costumes for dance class recitals across the country and even internationally. They had a catalog with more than a hundred different designs for dance teachers to choose from.

David Fritsch had a number of responsibilities with the business, including being the chief financial officer, setting up computer equipment and even cutting material for costumes. His wife, who was the designer, said they worked together but separate because they had different skills.

The Costume Shop picked up another revenue stream by crafting Halloween costumes to make up for the seasonal slowdown in dance recitals.

The Costume Shop became an early version of the “pop-up” Halloween costume stores that appear every September and October. The business would make costumes for retail at its own store and then transitioned into making wholesale costumes.

Because the business slowed down in summer, David Fritsch was able to indulge his love of sailing. Fritsch, a licensed captain, built his first rowboat when he was a child and took it out on Highland Lake in Winsted. He owned five different boats during his life.

The Antithesis, Spirit, Grass Hill, Kvack and his final boat, the Kwakatu, were important parts of the Fritsch family’s life. The boats meant family vacations and long voyages. One even served as a home for him and his wife.

“As soon as the weather got warm enough we would go and clean the boats. Then as soon as it became sailing weather, he was one of the first boats in the water,” Vollenweider said. “Every weekend and weeks during the summer we would be on the boat. And he would keep going until it got cold.”

He captained one boat, the Kvack, across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain in 1992 to participate as the official Connecticut representative in the America 500, a sailing event that retraced Christopher Columbus’ sailing voyage 500 years earlier.

One of his prouder sailing moments came on his final boat, the Kwakatu, when he sailed it through the Panama Canal.

“Every time on his travels he would get to a place he really liked and said, ‘I could live there,'” his wife said.

He and his wife lived on his final boat for more than three years. But that didn’t mean they stayed in one place for every long.

“He was always planning the next trip,” Vollenweider said.

Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant


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Brundall boat sales firm forges ahead after £2m marina investment


Norfolk Boat Sales’ redevelopment of the marina at Brundall.
Sales Manager Matthew Stone at the marina.

Picture: James Bass

Stephen Pullinger
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

8:00 AM

A Norfolk boat sales firm has doubled its turnover in two years – from £2m to £4m – as it looks to cement its position as a national player at a newly refurbished marina.

Since starting as a modest boat sales arm of Broads hire boat firm Barnes Brinkcraft, Norfolk Boat Sales (NBS) has passed the milestone of selling more than 150 boats a year.

And the firm is now preparing for a busy summer at its new headquarters, the former Eastwood Marina, in Brundall, which it bought two years ago.

The team, led by sales manager Matthew Stone, moved to the site in December following nearly a year of improvement work which took the investment of directors Daniel and Matthew Thwaites, including purchase price, to more than £2m.

Mr Stone said: “At the beginning it was very run-down and we had to start by knocking down an array of old sheds that flooded. We dredged the marina to nearly double the number of moorings and put in new quay heading, steel not wood, as well as durable fibre plastic pontoons.”

The on-site office had been refitted and in the coming weeks further improvements would include the arrival of a boat lift to facilitate service and repair for customers, he added.

The pace of business is reflected in the fact that Mr Stone is preparing to hand over 13 boats in the run-up to Easter alone.

He said: “It all started seven years when I was working for Walton Marine which leased a small office in Wroxham. Matthew Thwaites and I got chatting and decided it would be a good move to set up on our own.

“Over three years we grew the business and bought more and more stock, and then we secured the Broom agency which put our name on the map.

“We started really investing in stock and pushing brokerage. Then we became the dealer for Elan (a Croatian brand). We thought it would be a good option for the short term but it has proved to be brilliant.”

In the space of 12 months they had sold about a dozen in the range and were now gearing up for the launch of the new Elan 37, an impressive boat with two ensuite cabins, at the Southampton boat show in September.

He said the Thwaites’ had invested more than £2m in new and used stock and all the marina moorings were given over to sales boats.

NBS had been based on the site of nearby Broom until the boatbuilder took back sales in-house at the end of last year.

The company, which retains an office in Wroxham, has grown to a staff of nine and Mr Stone anticipates further expansion.

Highlighting the success of both NBS and neighbouring Norfolk Yacht Agency, he said it underlined Norfolk’s status in the national market.

He said the business complemented the operation of Barnes Brinkcraft’s hire boat trade.

“When you are buying and selling boats you can keep engineers and other staff busy even when the hire boats are all out. It shares a lot of the costs,” he said.

Is your business going from strength to strength? Email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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    Volvo Ocean Race boats depart Auckland after cyclone delay

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    The six boats were kept in port on the advice of their skippers and race organizers to avoid the cyclone that caused massive destruction in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, claiming at least 11 lives.

    The fleet faces a daunting 6,776-nautical mile (12,549-kilometer, 7,798-mile) journey to their destination in Itajai, Brazil, battling treacherous conditions through the Southern Ocean, rounding Cape Horn and then sailing through the Atlantic for the first time since November.

    It’s the toughest test for the crews taking part in the nine-month, 38,739-nautical mile (71,745 kilometers, 44,642 miles) race.

    Winds in the Southern Ocean are expected to regularly top 100 mph (160 kph) and waves around Cape Horn can reach 100 feet (30 meters) high.

    In the last edition of the race in 2011-12, five of the six boats sustained serious damage during the leg and two were forced to retire.

    Experienced sailors Stu Bannatyne of New Zealand and Damian Foxall from Ireland were recruited by Team Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race Team, respectively, just to take part in the leg.

    Bannatyne, a six-time race veteran, did not need much persuading. ”This is the best sailing in the world,” he said.

    Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing started the stage level on eight points with Dongfeng Race Team, but is the race leader courtesy of its superior record in the in-port series, which acts as the tie-breaker.

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    The boats are expected to arrive in Itajai around April 7.

    The fleet will cross the halfway point of the race during the fifth leg. In all, the boats will cover nine legs, visiting 11 ports. The race is scheduled to finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden, after starting in Alicante, Spain, in October last year.


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    The boats will now escape any serious threat from the weather but still face a treacherous 6,776-nautical mile stage through the Southern Ocean, around Cape Horn and into the Atlantic to Itajaí in south-eastern Brazil.

    In the last race in 2011-12, five of the six competing boats suffered serious damage and only four completed the leg.

    Conditions are likely to be the toughest in the nine-month race so far with waves around Cape Horn on the southern tip of Chile sometimes reaching 30 metres (100 feet).

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