New owners take on Coupeville’s Back to the Island

There’s a new face running one of the businesses on Coupeville’s historic Front Street.

Pati Schmakeit recently bought Back to the Island, a small boutique located next door to the Penn Cove Gallery.

Back to the Island sells clothes and novelties popular with tourists and neighbors alike.

She had a casual journey to becoming a business owner.

She said she was visiting with her son, who graduated from Coupeville High School in 2013, when he said, “we need to buy a business.”

Former Back to the Island owner Deb Crocker was her neighbor and asked her if she was interested in selling one of her businesses to give her a call. That call came in December and she took over Back to the Island in January.

“It was really serendipitous,” Schmakeit said of her new business.

While she plans to continue selling Back to the Island’s current line of products, she is planning several additions, notably licensed sportswear.

She hopes to start selling Huskies and Cougars merchandise and, once she gets the licensing, Seahawks and Mariners items too. She will also continue looking for novelty items to also sell at Back to the Island.

Prior to that, she spent six years working in social services and enjoyed a career in the Air Force where she was a lieutenant colonel and served as an intelligence officer. She and her husband, Paul, moved to Whidbey Island 15 years ago and spent eight years in Oak Harbor before moving to Coupeville.

“It’s a fun community with good people,” Paul said.

Schmakeit’s purchase of Back to the Island is the latest of a series of changes that have taken place in Coupeville’s downtown business district.

The Windjammer Gallery closed its doors at the end of 2013 and in its place is Vail Wine Ship, which moved from its former spot in Mariners Court.

The Oystercatcher recently welcomed new owners and Eagles Song Health and Wellsness moved to a new spot in Freeland.

Back to the Island is currently operation under its winter hours. It’s open from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Hours will expand in the summer.