By Laura Myers
Jack Micciche, 28, who owns the funky and eclectic Mother Ocean Key Largo Marine Consignment store with dad Carmine, describes the vintage, quintessentially Keys outlet as “nautical Narnia.”
Mother Ocean, which also could be called an adult mariner’s candy store, is full of colorful useful finds for everything “Keys” — often at negotiable prices.
Located at 103300 Overseas Highway (mile marker 103.3 bayside) in Key Largo, Mother Ocean is recognizable by its giant pink octopus, crafted from debris and perched atop the building’s bright turquoise awning.
Out back, the ramshackle 10,000-square-foot property is crammed with two large white tents and four trailers stuffed full of used and new merchandise including boat coolers, life vests, tools, marine-related art and memorabilia, upholstery, fishing rods and tackle. Inside, every corner is filled with Keys treasures for bargain hunters.
“It’s not a scrapyard; it’s a fun store where people can get honest opinions,” Micciche said. “Things are hidden in every corner.”
Micciche moved to the Keys a few years ago from Atlanta, where he was studying to become a certified financial professional. Seeking a change, he also wanted to spend time with his entrepreneurial father, who settled in the Keys in 2013.
“I switched career paths,” Micciche said. “Everything just worked out.”
Longtime clientele can still visit with Mother Ocean founders and former owners Reuven and Lysa Benami, who work part time at the store.
“I love our customers: people who live on a sailboat to people who made the Keys what they are today,” Micciche said. “I love being able to help people save a couple of bucks.”
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay is a Mother Ocean regular who purchased a Boston Whaler as well as marine and fishing gear at bargain prices.
“It’s a must for anybody who is into boating, fishing or diving,” Ramsay said of the store. “You can buy stuff there that can be up to a quarter of the price of (something) new.”
Ramsay, other locals and even frequent Keys visitors also bring their gently used marine gear to Mother Ocean to sell. They know that there is a constant stream of customers coming through the store and that it can be easier than trying to liquidate their no-longer-needed boating equipment through online shopping platforms.
"When my wife is tired of seeing my fishing and boating stuff lying around the house, I usually bring it here," said a customer who preferred not to be identified. "The problem is that when I come here to sell, I usually end up buying something I 'really' need."
Mother Ocean is normally open Wednesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for major holidays.
Micciche and wife Halle live in Islamorada and are expecting their first child in April.
His motto: “Work hard. Play hard.”
Where he dines: Num Thai in Key Largo.
Where he explores: Florida Bay and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
How he relaxes: “Spending time with my wife, family and friends. Either on the boat, playing pool or watching sports.”
Jack Micciche displays some of the merchandise that can be found at Key Largo's Mother Ocean. Photos by Andy Newman