SeaFood Business

MAR 2014

SeaFood Business is the global trusted authority for seafood buyers and sellers. We are the seafood industry's leading trade magazine with more than 30 years of experience. Our coverage is based on the "business" of buying and selling seafood.

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Net Working 84 SeaFood Business March 2014 Visit us online at "I'll probably die before I retire. When you have a job you enjoy it's not work, it's a pleasure. " Sol Amon Proprietor Pure Food Fish Market Seattle BY JAMES WRIGHT I t's entirely possible that a lot of the camera-toting tourists who visit Seattle and stop by its famous Pike Place Public Market think there's only one fsh shop there. You know, the one near the entrance, where guys in orange slickers toss fsh back and forth. But there are actually four, and Pure Food Fish Market, if you take Sol Amon at his word, sells more fsh than all of them. Amon's father Jack, who immigrated to the United States from Turkey in 1911, was a lifelong seafood guy who coincidentally owned the now-famous Pike Place Fish Market from 1946 to 1956 before he and his son started a new shop together. So, since there's been an Amon hawking fsh at Pike Place for 103 years, this guy Sol might just know what he's talking about. For fve or six days a week, you can still fnd Amon, 84, at the store he's owned for 55 years. He remembers selling king salmon from Alaska for mere pennies per pound and the early days of shipping fsh, packed on ice in wooden crates, on trains across the country. Amon now delivers his fsh frst class on overnight shipments. Te mail order component of his business keeps growing (it's about 20 percent of his overall sales now) and maybe it's because of the website's name — it's hard to argue that, a domain his daughter Helene Behar bought 30 years ago, isn't a stroke of genius. How long have you worked inside Pike Place? Since I was 17, working for my dad. Back then the fsh business was a poor man's business. But then the doctors made it a rich man's business when they said [seafood] was good for you! Te pope OK'd fsh on Fridays, and we thought it was the end of the world. Tey still say it's good for you. Then why do you think U.S. seafood consumption is slowing? Prices and availability are slowing it down, more than anything else. It's dif- fcult. Just about everything we have on the counter is $7 [a pound] and up. Most salmon are $20. Halibut is $22. Tis year the [halibut] quota is less, so those prices won't be going down. Did you ever not want to work in fsh, that you'd rather do something else? At the beginning when I bought it [in 1957], I thought it was a difcult busi- ness. Prices were cheap and you couldn't make any money. White king salmon were just 29 cents a pound. For me, in 1962 it all changed. Tat's when the World Fair came to Seattle. It showed me we could do well. We started to ship in wooden boxes, three to four days to destination. From then on I thought it was a good business so I stayed on. Always made a good living for me. It's fun, and every day it changes. Can you give me an example? One day you get a lot of sockeyes, some days you get none, but you get kings, and some are large, some are small. You have to adapt your business to what you get and also to what the customer wants. It's not what you want to sell; it's what they want to buy. And every day there's diferent customers. Are shoppers surprised that there's several fsh markets at Pike Place? We do a lot more business than [Pike Place Fish Market], for a fact. But we live of them. We thrive of of them. Tey bring people in. We're very pro- fessional in the way we handle our customers. If you're charging this much you have to know what you're doing. Actually, if we were the only fsh market here, the market wouldn't be the hub of the fsh business. It's one of the few places where you can get a whole tuna. Between all of us, you'll fnd it. Competition is good; it keeps you alert, keeps you in line. What does the future hold for you and for your shop? One of the reasons I come down ev- ery day is to tutor my grandchildren [Carlee Kulman and Isaac Behar, who both work at the market]. It's a bless- ing. I want to turn it over to them, and give them an idea of how to mer- chandise, buy and meet the public. It'll take a few years, but I have hope. I don't think we'll sell it unless they don't want it. I'll probably die before I retire. I enjoy it, as you can see. It's bet- ter than staying home. It's my hobby. It's not work. When you have a job you enjoy it's not work, it's a pleasure. 84_NetWorking.indd 84 2/19/14 1:21 PM

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