by Hunter Dawkins
Chances are if you are traveling down W Second Street in Pass Christian, you’ll pass by an old school local business called A&A Marine Hardware with a small bait shop attached to your right. Upon glimpse of this shop, there is no real reason to think there is much to the business.
After entrance, a fisherman’s dream will begin to illuminate as there is virtually everything needed for a boat, fishing rod, insect spray to even a few pair of clothes if you forget those. Once you pull in any kind of fish, the store even has knives to cut the filets out to prepare for food or sale, depending on recreational or commercial fisherman that you are. Walking towards the front right near the cashier slot, you will undoubtedly meet the happy-go-lucky, the Acadian charismatic owner Paula DuBos Armbruster.
“Billy and I opened the business in 2011 when it got too physically draining for me to be on the shrimp boat all the time,” said Armbruster. “Then, I was only the money partner and occasionally helped out, but had my own business.”
After an employee that worked for Billy Armbruster left with no notice, Paula began helping him in the store. Soon after, Billy hired an assistant Kate to work part-time at the store, where she still helps.
In August 2015, Billy had a widow-maker heart attack and passed. The two were nearly inseparable, as they were together for 42 years, married for 39 when he died.
“I think there’s a need for this type of business in the Pass,” expressed Armbruster. “We now have fewer commercial fishermen working, so business has changed to supply more for recreational fishermen now.”
Despite the decline of the commercial fishing industry due to many external circumstances; such as the openings of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, this local business has everything needed for anglers.
“A&A Marine Hardware has done a great job serving the fishing community in Pass Christian for many years,” applauded Ryan Bradley, Executive Director of the Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United (MSFCU) and Board Member of the Mississippi Sound Coalition. “They have always have what we need at a fair price and they are super convenient.”
Moving to New Orleans East on the Chef Menteur Bayou following their marriage, Billy’s family were all fishermen. Unfortunately, Billy had an accident a year after the marriage and lost his sight, caustic soda burns to both eyes, but still wanted to fish for a living.
“He had a seeing-eye wife according to his ophthalmologist,” laughed Paula. “We fished the Gulf, wherever there were shrimp. It was back in the days when you could make money.”
In 2004, the Armbrusters moved to the Pass because of work in more of the eastern Gulf, which consumed a majority of their business.
“Didn’t really matter where we were,” stated Armbruster. “Because we were together and had our dogs and cats with us.”
As a local community business, The Gazebo Gazette, MSFCU and the local fisherman thank Paula for her dedication and support to the local community.