Virg’s Landing, kin thrive in Morro Bay

Special to The TribuneMay 4, 2014 

In celebration of Morro Bay’s 50th anniversary, mother-daughter team Sharon Moores and Tracy Neil Shewchuk accepted a recognition plaque this year for Virg’s Landing.

Their family business launched sports fishing on the Central Coast. Virgil and Frieda Moores established the business in Morro Bay in 1954. By introducing the first live bait albacore fishing, they spawned a tourism market for sport fishermen and a boomtown waterfront for Morro Bay. At one point, Virg’s Landing sent out 13 boats two or three times daily for salmon, albacore and rock cod. In 1964, they opened Virg’s Bait Shop.

While their mother and grandparents ran the business, Shewchuk and her brother, Darby Neil, grew up around the docks, getting themselves into mischief and learning the family business.

“It was a great childhood,” Shewchuk recalled. “My first job was working the fish rack. We’d throw the crab carcasses in the bay. That increased the rock crab. We’d crab off the docks. We’d float on anything in the bay before the Harbor Patrol caught and hauled us back.”

Today, Virg’s is under new management. Neil retired in 2009. Sharon Moores is consulting for Virg’s as needed. She’s anxious to return to New Zealand and document the history of sports fishing on the Central Coast. For a brief history of Virg’s Landing, go to virgslanding.com. 

Mother and daughter chuckled as they explained Virgil’s successful direct marketing strategy. After creating hundreds of handbills, they’d drop them over the county from a plane owned by Virgil’s friend.

Moores said her top priority is being there for her daughter, who is going through chemotherapy since her near-death stage 4 cancer diagnosis and operation last April.
“I lived through it (cancer) in 1970,” Moores said. “I spent four years at a treatment center in Indiana, and Tracy was there with me. We took every class and started a business on holistic medicine.”

Indiana was also where Shewchuk discovered her love for art. She now co-owns her second art business in Morro Bay, Suite 1 Gallery in Marina Square, with internationally famed photographer Bill Shewchuk.

“A nurse said she knew I’d be fine because of my attitude,” Tracy Shewchuk said. “Running a business, you learn to take charge, make decisions, and change course when something isn’t going as planned. Taking charge of your health is no different.”
“Cancer comes with gifts,” Shewchuk continued. “It changes your priorities. Bill is making time for his passion — photography. Our business is better than ever. (Daughter) Cordelia is excelling studying nursing at Holy Cross. I look after Mom as she looks after me. The best gifts are the little things — sincere positive wishes. You can’t hear enough from survivors, ‘I’ve survived.’ ”

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at 801-1422 or judysalamacha@gmail.com.

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