When asked how long he has been working in the fish industry, Stuart explains that, “I’ve been doing this one way or another for 58 years. I started fishing when I was 12 years old.” A native of Southern California, Stuart has traveled up and down the west coast as a fish monger, selling everything from Dungeness crab to shrimp to English sole. His primary buyers are markets and wholesalers, but Stuart has also worked the farmers’ market circuit. “I don’t look at this as work,” explains Stuart, “it’s just what I do.”
For over a decade Stuart has run a fresh fish wholesale business - S. Fish - based out of Watsonville, California, and in recent years his wife has joined him by taking on the business finances. The couple love running their own business and have never considered working for a larger company. “I like being my own boss, and making my own decisions. I would rather have my own business and perhaps not make as much money, because the opportunity is always there,” says Stuart.
“I know most people in the fish business. It doesn’t matter what the economic climate is, if I’ve got the supply, I’ve got buyers.” However, the supply of crab and shrimp is the lowest Stuart has seen in twenty years. Stuart has always worked his way out of tough spots in the past, and in all his years as a small business owner, he has never before taken out a loan.
Stuart is a strong believer in the idea that ‘when one door closes, another opens.’ An $8,000 loan from Opportunity Fund will open a new door for "S. Fish" by allowing Stuart and Stella to make the upfront investment in increased travel costs, which are necessary for them to find new suppliers and boost inventory. And, as business picks up again, "S. Fish" will be better off for the extra work they’ve put in to secure those suppliers.
In the end, Stuart emphasizes the point that he enjoys what he does. “I’m having fun – that’s how it should be.”
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