It was 1972 when Chuck and Judy Milner opened their first gift store on the Redondo Beach Pier. In the intervening years, they owned and operated seven shops. In November, they will close their last store on the pier, Shark Attack, after 24 years.
“We are now on our third generation of people coming to stores we have owned on the pier,” Judy Milner said. “All of the time, people come in and say they remember seeing Georgette (the shark) when they were a kid and now they’re bringing their children in.”
The Milners at one point simultaneously operated five different shops on the pier, four of which were destroyed by the 1988 fire.
“The fire was devastating,” Milner said, “but we knew there was nowhere else we wanted to be but on the pier.”
Shark Attack was opened in 1989 and carries everything from World War II memorabilia to gems, from tourist items to jewelry, from fossils to shark’s teeth.
But the cornerstone that Shark Attack was built around is Georgette, a 16-and-a-half foot great white, that weighed 3,400 pounds when she was caught off the coast of Washington and has been taxidermy dry preserved. The Milners gave her an aquarium-style home in the store, providing educational tours on the most feared breed of shark.
“Shark Attack has been a landmark on the pier since it opened,” Milner said. “People from all over the world and people from other states and locals visit Georgette regularly.”
The Milners are donating the shark. Georgette’s new home will be 60 miles south at the Ocean Institute. She will be the centerpiece of an exhibit focusing on “Sustainable Seas,” which will look at sharks as apex predators, their importance in the ecosystem and their unique evolutionary characteristics that have enabled them to survive and thrive for millions of years.