When you walk into Tom’s Outboard on East Bay Drive in Olympia, you are struck by the sheer magnitude of items for sale. Every wall is covered, from floor to ceiling, with boating supplies and memorabilia of the sea.

batdorf bronson logoThe water of Budd Bay inlet laps at the shore just across the street. The masts of sailboats flank the entrance of Swantown Marina and its boat launch just yards away. Their ideal location comes in handy to resident boaters who suddenly realize that their motor is in need of a repair before making its maiden voyage of the season.

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Tom readies an Evinrude motor for a customer’s first boating trip of the season on the lake.

The property was purchased by owner Tom Turnbow’s grandfather.  He wanted his son to have the opportunity to own his own business. Tom opened his doors in 1980 and now employs six employees including his own son, Tanner Turnbow.

As the name indicates, Tom’s Outboard works solely on Honda, Evinrude and Tahatsu outboard motors.  These sturdy motors are best suited to the salt water of Puget Sound.

On average, about 30 boats sit on Tom’s lot at any given time. This number can rise to 50 when the weather warms and the water beckons. In mid-July, there is often a line of customers towing trailers hoping to find a spot in the lot and a place in the repair queue.

tom's outboard
At Tom’s Outboard, a variety of ropes can be cut to size for your needs, whether it’s for an anchor or a crab pot or anything else.

Much of Tom’s repair business is keeping the commercial seafood fleets out on the water.  Taylor Shellfish, among other companies, relies on Tom to keep its motors conditioned to push the barges required to harvest local clams, mussels and geoducks.

“Our mission is to get rid of all the old polluting engines,” says Turnbow. “We wouldn’t have the energy efficient outboard motors of today without the first generation of motors, but today all companies want clean outboards.”

“Fuel efficient boats will keep the Puget Sound and our lakes clean,” he adds.

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Everything you need from propellers to tackle fill the floor to ceiling shelves at Tom’s Outboard.

Although the repair customers drive much of the sales at Tom’s Outboard, anything you need for a trip to the water can be found on their shelves, including coolers, clam guns, fishing tackle and buoys abound.  Need one hundred feet of ten-pound rope? One of Tom’s friendly employees will gladly cut it for you on the spot.

In a world of online shopping and big box stores, Tom’s Outboard is a special local spot.  Even if you are not a boater, a trip to Tom’s Outboard is an enjoyable and unique experience.

Tom’s Outboard
221 East Bay Drive NE in downtown Olympia

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