The Fishguy (6 MB PDF file)
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Savoring Chicago (click image to subscribe!) featured us in their
survey of Chicago Fish Markets. You can read the article (JPEG) here:
The following excerpt is reprinted from a Red Streak article
from April 30, 2004. © All Rights reserved.
Upscale Caviar could get scarce and pricier, but some domestic roe better anyway
by Janet Rausa Fuller
At the Fishguy Market on North Elston, Bill Dugan sells only one type
of caviar -- made from American sturgeon caught in the Mississippi
River, of all places.
The roe sells for $14 an ounce (note added by the Fishguy : the price tends to fluctuate a little higher than $14), a steal compared to the $90 average price per ounce for much-sought-after beluga (note added by the Fishguy : the price of Beluga generally averages $75 an ounce or less), and if you ask Dugan, it tastes better.
"What I think is a real joke is we've always had great caviar here in
this country, and because of this absurd snob appeal it's been
overlooked," he said.
With the recent announcement that beluga sturgeon is "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, retailers and restaurateurs say less-hyped U.S. caviar is likely to get a boost.
The Loop restaurant Russian Tea Time and Whole Foods Market have
dropped beluga, while Petrossian Caviar, one of the largest U.S.
importers, is pushing "environmentally-sound" caviar like farm-raised
California sturgeon, director Eve Vega said.
The United States is the world's largest importer of beluga caviar. For
Americans, it is the creme de la creme, the stuff of golden
anniversaries and New Year's Eve.
But the beluga sturgeon population in the Caspian and Black Sea basins
is declining due to unregulated overfishing, loss of spawning habitat
and poaching for the black market caviar trade, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service says.
The agency will decide within six months whether to enact partial or full bans on imports of beluga caviar, a spokeswoman said.
Consumers should not rush out and stockpile the delicacy, however -- a
bad idea because caviar has a shelf life of about a week. (note added by the Fishguy : caviar actually has a shelf life of 2 years when stored properly -- we will feature this later)
"The only panic is the price is going to go up. That's inevitable,"
said Suzanne Edwards, sous chef at Fox and Obel specialty market, which
stocks Iranian beluga, osetra and sevruga caviar, plus salmon and
whitefish roe. She's paying slightly more than last year but hasn't had
to raise prices yet.
Chef Rick Tramonto of Tru Restaurant, meanwhile, is taking a
"wait-and-see" approach depending on what the government does. For now,
he's not fiddling with his signature "caviar staircase," a deluxe
assortment of four roes favored by his big-spending diners.
"The people that are going to spend that kind of money will either pay
an even greater premium for the product, or it won't be available," he
said. "It's that simple."
The following article is reprinted from Chicago Mayor's Office of Special Events, July 6, 2003. © All Rights reserved.23 Years of All Star Family Fun
2003 Taste of Chicago Covers All Bases including Baseball
Friday, June 27-Sunday, July 6, 2003
THE FISHGUY DOES THE TASTE OF CHICAGO
Owner Bill Dugan and Chef Geoffrey Silverwood were invited to demonstrate at the Dominick's Cooking Corner on July 6, 2003.
Click here to the recipes.
The 2003 Taste of Chicago presented by U.S. Cellular will field
a great line-up of food, activities and entertainment, June 27- July 6,
2003 in Grant Park, featuring many returning players as well as some
great new stars.
Taste-goers will step up to the plate at 65
restaurants serving specialties from pizza to pierogies. A different
restaurant will be featured each day in the Gourmet Dining Pavilion
each of the ten days of the festival.
Sure to hit a home run with Taste crowds is a rookie promotion, the
Taste Frequent Diner Coupon. Taste food and beverage tickets are sold
in strips of 11 tickets for $7. This year, each strip purchased on site
will include a Taste Frequent Diner Coupon. Collecting ten of these
coupons will result in a free strip of 11 Taste tickets.
Taste tickets will again be sold at Dominick’s locations, beginning
June 19 and ending June 26. These will not include the Taste Frequent
Diner Coupon but the 11 ticket strips are sold for only $5.50. Tickets
purchased at Domonick's after June 26, 2003 are priced at $7.00 per
U.S. Cellular begins the first year of a two-year partnership with
Taste. As part of the sponsorship, the company will present the U.S.
Cellular Wireless Café, where festivalgoers can cool down, make free
wireless phone calls, surf the Web, learn the ins and outs of text
messaging, and meet local celebrities. In addition, visitors can
sharpen their text messaging skills and win great prizes during the
U.S. Cellular Taste Test - a unique Chicago trivia text messaging
"U.S. Cellular is dedicated to the Chicago community, and is proud to
showcase our commitment as the presenting sponsor of the 23rd annual
Taste of Chicago," said John E. Rooney, president and CEO of U.S.
Cellular. "With the addition of the U.S. Cellular Wireless Café, as
well as the great food, music and entertainment, we are confident that
our sponsorship is going to be a grand slam for everyone attending the
Also new this year is Taste of the States, a sampling of cuisine from
other locations in the U.S., including foods from Hawaii, Maine,
Mississippi, Wisconsin, Florida and Illinois.
Taste of the States will feature food vendors from up to two states at
one tent (located at Buckingham Fountain plaza across from the Gourmet
Dining Pavilion) each day of the Taste of Chicago.
The following is a Taste of the States schedule:
Friday, June 27 Mississippi & Wisconsin
Saturday, June 28 Mississippi & Wisconsin
Sunday, June 29 Mississippi & Wisconsin
Monday, June 30 Florida
Tuesday, July 1 Florida & Maine
Wednesday, July 2 Florida & Maine
Thursday, July 3 Hawaii
Friday, July 4 Hawaii
Saturday, July 5 Hawaii & Illinois
Sunday, July 6 Illinois
In addition to plates of food, this year attendees will step up to the
a home plate at the Major League Baseball Road Show display. As Chicago
prepares for the return of the Major League Baseball All Star Game,
aspects of the MLB Road Show will befeatured at Taste include batting
cages, pitching cages, Jumbotron playing baseball’s great moments, and
much more, including current and former White Sox players signing
Festival goers will also see teams of chefs as they step to the stove
at the Dominick’s Cooking Corner. These renowned chefs will demonstrate
their culinary secrets, specializing in everything from pastries to
healthy cooking, in the state-of-the-art kitchen designed by Snaidero.
All demonstrations are free and provide a rare opportunity for people
who take interest in fine food, cooking and dining, from the novice to
the connoisseur, to learn first hand from the experts.
Taste of Chicago caters to all sorts of families with plenty of picnic
tables and water fountains to add to the Taste experience. Seniors will
especially delight in the Senior pavilion as it offers shaded seating
and complementary water provided by Hinckley Spring Water Company.
An all star line up of musical talent will play at the Petrillo Music
Shell, which will also hosts the Country Music Festival on Saturday and
Sunday, June 28 & 29.
Local performers bring great music of all genres to the southern end of
Taste, at the Goose Island Summertime Taste Stage, located at Columbus
and Balbo. Performances begin at the Taste Stage at noon each day.
Activities and music for the younger generation will be available at
the DIRECTV and the Weather Channel Family Village. Music from some of
the hottest young bands as well as great songs and entertainment just
for kids will fill the DIRECTV and the Weather Channel Funtime Stage
The United Airlines Ferris Wheel returns to the south end of Taste, as
well as the water flume ride. Also returning to Taste this year is the
SBC Extreme Team High Divers.
The FOX Bandstand will showcase an eclectic range of performers every
afternoon. The best of blues, rock, jazz and Latin music will be
featured, along with “meet and greet” sessions with local personalities
from Fox News.
Moving down the Taste batting order, the last day of Taste, July 6,
will feature the 11th Annual Bally Total Fitness Race to Taste. Now you
can truly burn off all your Taste calories. The 5K run and 2 mile walk
for adults begins at 8:30 a.m. The entry fee for the race is $12 until
June 29, and $15 for same day registration. Participants will also
receive an official T-shirt and goodie bag. The Kids’ Dash for children
ages 12 and under, begins at 10 a.m.
Chicago will once again host one of the earliest celebrations for the
nation’s birthday will continue with the Independence Eve Fireworks
Spectacular on the 3rd of July, a concert from the Grant Park Orchestra
and fireworks presentation. The Independence Eve Fireworks Spectacular
begins at 9:30 p.m. on July 3.
The following article is reprinted from Chicago Reader, October 6, 2000. © All Rights reserved.Fine Kettles of Fish
By Don Rose
One recent Saturday morning at the Fishguy Market-a two-year-old
store on a dusty stretch of Elston in Albany Park—silvery John Dory lay
gleaming alongside rich, meaty sturgeon steaks, pearly Belon oysters,
plump, pink diver scallops handpicked from the ocean floor, and some
bluefish owner Bill Dugan had just smoked that morning. On any given'
day Dugan might have 20 or 25 different items in stock, such as salmon,
sushi-grade tuna, grouper, flounder, Prince Edward Island mussels,
cockles, clams, and up to five varieties of oyster.
If you ask. Dugan will tell you exactly how to cook them-or
he'll sell you a handcrafted entree like seafood paella, crab cakes, or
stuffed trout. One of the in-house chefs can also make you something to
order. "Just about anything that can be done with seafood, we do it,"
Dugan has spent the past 25 years, on both coasts and in
between, immersed in every aspect of the fish business. He's worked as
a wholesaler, retailer, smoker, shipper, supplier, and restaurateur.
He's farmed sturgeon and made caviar, and even operated a trawler for a
while. Get him going and he'll give you a lesson in oceanography and
the diets that can make one grouper taste better than another. He's
even impacted industry nomenclature, repositioning blackfish as the
more appealing "blueberry bass" and coining the term "diver scallops"
to distinguish the firm but tender hand-harvested bivalves from their
grittier mass-gathered cousins. Boston-born and Long Island-bred, Dugan wound up in the Bay
Area, working construction, at 17. "I was strictly a peanut butter and
jelly guy then," he says.
But by the time he was 19 he'd gone into business with his
brother, who ran a market and restaurant called Dugan's Lobster Trap
that, over the years, attracted customers such as Julia Child and-James
Beard. While his brother ran the restaurant (and .opened a second
spot), Dugan got into the wholesale business, flying shipments of
high-grade fish and shellfish to San Francisco each morning from the
east .coast and distributing to restaurants all across the city and up
the Napà Valley to Calistoga (where he eventually moved). Along the way
he made friends with dozens of talented chefs who were putting
California cuisine on the culinary map. "It was a great time," he says.
"I learned a lot about food. I learned from the chefs' requests."
In the mid-80s he bought a smoker and split his business
between fresh and smoked fish, but shortly afterward he was bought out
by a Swedish firm engaged in sturgeon farming, which put him in charge
of marketing operations. Tired of the Napa Valley, he relocated to
Chicago and, in 1989, launched a new wholesaling business, Superior
Ocean Produce. He’s kept the city’s finest resturants—Ambria, Spiaggia,
Charlie Trotter's—swimming in fresh, premium fish ever since. In 1998
he decided to open a retail store as well, and consolidated his outfit
in a new location on Elston, near where he lives with his wife,
Stephanie, and 15-year-old son, Adam. The walls of the Fishguy Market are hung with so many huge
stuffed fish it looks like a piscine hunting lodge. Among them is an
immense freeze-dried lobster and the head of a ferocious 600-pound
black bass, mOuth agape, looking like a candidate for a cameo in Jaws.
Up front behind a counter is a big industrial stove and steamer where
Dugan and his staff make the take-home dishes and guest chefs such as
John Manion (Mas) and John Coletta (Caliterra) give, cooking lessons.
The.real action is in the warehouse in the back, with its
loading dock, long work tables, and 2,000 square feet of refrigerator
space. Every morning, coffin-sized cardboard crates filled with
refrigerant and lined with Styrofoam and plastic sheeting arrive from
points ranging from Fiji to Maine and Alaska to New Zealand. One crate
might contian donzens of amberjack, another a 150-pound bass. All the
fish come in whold and are cut into fillets and steaks right there. "A
lot of wholesalers get their fish already cut up," says Dugan "but it
stays fresher this way."
He receives six to eight tons of fish every week—including a
ton of tuna and 1,500 pounds of salmon. Little goes to waste. The
trimmings are used for stocks or preparations such as seafood sausage
and fish cakes. Items that don't sell in a day are frozen and put to
similar use, and he often donates what’s left over to the Little
Sisters of the Poor. This year the wholesale business grossed $2.5
million, the retail store about $500,000. "I think my strongest point in this phase of my career is I've
learned a lot and I've got knowledge to impart if people choose to
ask," says Dugan. Next on his agenda: putting together a TV show on
fish how to cook it, featuring himself and an all-star cast of chefs.
He's hoping to shoot a pilot by next year.
The Fishguy Market is at 4423 N. Elston, 773-283-7400. On Tuesdays all items normally riced above $10 per pound—such as
$16.95 diver scallops or $14.95 yellowfin tuna—are sold for a flat $10 a pound.
The following article was reprinted from ID Magazine August 1999, pg. 29-31 ID Magazine All Rights reserved.SEAFOOD SAVVY--The Fishguy Market gets patrons biting
By Joan Lang
Savvy operators are proving that just about any type of food
business can support takeout. Bill Dugan is a case in point. The
owner of a successful wholesale fish business in Chicago, and a former
aquaculturist, Dugan recently got into the retail game by
opening The Fishguy Market. This European-style specialty food store
sells not only a large variety of premium-quality fresh and smoked
seafood, but also touts a selection of prepared foods for takeout. In
fact, as much as 40 percent of The Fishguy Market's sales are captured
by what Dugan terms Home Meal Enhancement (HME) products--prepared
foods such as crab cakes and grilled calamari salad, as well as
value-added items such as seafood sausage, stuffed shrimp and various
It's a line of business Dugan feels confident will grow.
Moreover, he also believes strongly that offering ready-to-eat and
ready-to-cook foods will ultimately help his patrons become more
comfortable with seafood--a product that many Midwesterners, in
particular, are still relatively unfamiliar with. By turning over part
of his store to a user-friendly merchandising area for prepared foods,
and staffing it with friendly, service-oriented personnel who can help
customers--including a staff of trained professional chefs who work
front and center--Dugan is convinced he has a winning formula for
selling more seafood.
Dugan is part of a growing trend in the food business:
"Crossover" concepts that blur the line between retail and foodservice,
by providing customers with anything they need to get dinner on the
table. As such, he also represents an under-recognized niche for
foodservice distributors looking for a piece of the growing
meal-solutions trend. Although only about 10 percent of his purchases
for the market are handled by a traditional broadliner, in this case,
Sysco, Dugan is sensitive to the realities of his situation. "This is
not a huge account for them," he says. "But I consolidate all of my
purchasing, in particular dry goods and bulk items, into one large
order that they can work into their delivery schedule easily." Dugan is
cognizant of the fact that the purveyors he establishes relationships
with now stand to grow with him.
In the meantime, The Fishguy Market's strategy is all about educating. "The average home cook is a little wary of preparing
fish," explains Dugan. "I figured anything I can do to make it less intimidating would benefit everyone. And there's a huge
number of working homemakers and busy single professionals who are looking for easy-to-prepare, restaurant-quality meals and
He also hosts monthly cooking classes on various seafood topics,
offering attendees a little information along with a four-course dinner
and wine for $50 per person. Testament to the logic of this plan is the
fact that many of his customers come in several times a week.
Dugan's got another objective, however. In addition to serving
as an incremental source of sales and a door-opener to new customers,
the HME items also help him control costs and manage waste in both the
wholesale and retail sectors. Product that doesn't make the cut for
shipment to a demanding chef like Charlie Trotter, for instance, can be
turned into saleable items for the prepared-food case or freezer.
"I used to donate $40,000 or $50,000 worth of product a year to
the Little Sisters for Charity," he says. "While that
was good for my soul, it was not particularly good for my bottom line.
The profit on prepared and value-added foods is even better than it is
for retail items." Then, too, many of these sales tend to be
high-ticket, high-profit items, such as a platter of stuffed jumbo fish
or a whole poached salmon. "The HME items are also great for impulse
sales," he reveals. "Someone
will come in for a piece of sole or a swordfish steak, and see my baked
stuffed clams and decide to grab some of those for an
appetizer. All of a sudden, I've doubled the transaction size." A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE
Bill Dugan knows that the key to success for The Fishguy Market's HME
line is offering fresh, restaurant-quality prepared foods. He hires
only trained chefs to man the display cooking area and produce a wide
selection of specialty items, which range from ingredients such as
seafood stock to ready-to-eat specialties such as ceviche.
Because the kitchen staff have all worked on the restaurant
side, they know how to use whatever product is available through the
wholesale business, as well as seasonal produce and other prepared
foods. For instance, the kitchen will make seafood sausage or fish
cakes with whatever is on-hand, whether it's fresh scallops or the trim
from breaking down sea bass. Popular items such as deviled crabs are
made up in bulk and frozen for retail sale or later use in the display
The team also knows how to make money with meals-to-go. Items
are priced out at retail plus a markup of about 45 to 50 percent, which
ensures a good profit. However, Dugan emphasizes that some items will
be priced a little lower as necessary to encourage trial or volume.
"The most important thing right now is to develop a following,"
explains Dugan. "It all goes back to
demystifying seafood and doing whatever we can to build sales." HOUSE SPECIALTIES
The menu of Home Meal Enhancement items at The Fishguy Market is a
work-in-progress. Owner Bill Dugan's mission is twofold: develop
signature items that Fishguy will become known for, while offering the
kinds of specials and seasonally sensitive items for which restaurants
His selection includes a variety of seafood specialties
including: Homemade cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, flavored butters
and bottled salad dressings Signature seafood salads (i.e., Oriental
Seafood Salad, Sesame Seaweed Salad) Fish soups and stews Sushi Caviar
and smoked fish Seafood terrines (Shellfish Terrine) Appetizers
(Oysters Rockefeller, Mussels on the Half-Shell) Prepared and
ready-to-cook entrees (Salmon Croquettes, Stuffed Trout, Deviled Crabs)
Pasta items (Shrimp Gnocchi, Smoky Salmon Ravioli)
In addition, the market will prepare almost anything customers
could want. Many customers will special-order items such as a
terrine for 20, raw-bar platter, crudites and dip, whole poached
salmon, or a smoked sturgeon for a party, part of a growing trend
toward self-service catering.
"We emphasize simple but elegant items that customers can
easily integrate into a meal, whether it's frozen seafood stock for
someone who wants to cook their own specialty, or complete
ready-to-serve meals," notes Dugan. In addition, he stocks accessories
such as oyster knives, cedar planks, special seasonings and other
seafood-related items that appeal to home cooks.
The following article was reprinted from TAKEOUT June 15, 1999. © All Rights reserved.Wholesaler spawns a retail lineup
At The Fishguy Market in Chicago, Bill Dugan is turning seafood into a lucrative “homemeal-enhancement” business
By Joan Lang
Bill Dugan was the owner of a successful wholesale fish business
in Chicago when he decided last September to try the retail-takeout
game opening The Fishguy Market. Positioned as a European-style
specialty store, it carries a wide range of fresh fish, live shellfish,
caviar and smoked seafood—the same high quality product sold at
wholesale to such top-rated Chicago restaurants as Ambria, Charlie
Trotter’s and the Everest Room.
But at The Fishguy Market, 40% of sales come from what Dugan calls “home-meal enhancement” (HME) items—prepared foods like
crabcakes and grilled calamari salad, plus value-added items such as seafood sausage, stuffed shrimp and seafood-filled pastas.
In addition to attracting new customers, HME helps control costs
and manage waste better in both wholesale and retail sectors. Product
that doesn’t make the cut for a demanding chef like Charlie Trotter,
along with leftovers, trim and odd-size pieces, are turned into salable
items in the prepared-food case or freezer. “The profit on prepared and value-added foods is even better than it is for retail items,” says Dugan whose M.O. is based on
making customers feel more comfortable with seafood.
First in business on the East Coast and then in California,
Dugan was persuaded by chef friends to come to Chicago in 1990, where
he noticed the local habit of referencing various professionals as “the
transmission-guy” or the “bread-guy.”
When he opened the “fish-guy” retail market next to the
wholesale facility, he wanted it to be as inviting and user-friendly
as possible, from the bright, witty signage to the pristine selling
environment. Service personnel go through a rigorous training program
to learn how to handle seafood and to counsel customers. “The average
home cook is a little wary of preparing fish,” notes Dugan, “and we’re
here to help.” Dugan also recognized the trend among working homemakers to
look for easy-to-prepare, restaurant-quality home-cooked meals—and thus
was born The Fishguy Market’s HME line. Dugan hired CIA-trained chef Victor Newgren to man the
display/cooking area. Newgren and his staff of trained chefs take
advantage of products available through the wholesale business, as well
as seasonal produce and other items associated with
restaurant-quality food. For instance, Newgren will make seafood
sausage or fishcakes with such on-hand products as fresh scallops or
the trim from sea bass. Popular items such as deviled crabs and Clams a
la Rose (The Fishguy’s version of baked stuffed clams) are made bulk
and frozen for later retail sale.
Items are priced at retail plus a markup of about 45% to 50%,
which ensures a good profit—though Dugan emphasizes that he will price
things lower to encourage trial or volume. He’s convinced that The
Fishguy Market’s HME line is also a valuable marketing tool. “We’re
building a following for the prepared foods and that helps familiarize
customers with our retail line, as well,” he explains. By the same
token, customers who come in for a piece of swordfish fish for the
grill see the cases full of specialty foods and may make an impulse
purchase of oysters Rockefeller or salmon terrine.
To further promote the market, Dugan has a web-site and Tuesday-night cooking classes hosted by well-known chefs; he’s
investigating the possibility of a local-television cooking show.
Retail sales now account for about 20% of the total for Dugan’s
entire operation. Even better, he feels he’s providing a valuable
service. “It’s a matter of providing people with what they need, simply
and easily,” he says. “It’s all about making the products more
The following article is reprinted from Seafood
Business, © All Rights reserved.The Fishguy takes his seafood personally
Devoted retailer Bill Dugan sends his customers home withheat-and-eat meals
By Fiona Robinson
There are plenty of Chicago supermarkets with seafood departments, but Bill Dugan’s specialty store, The Fishguy Market,
takes selling seafood to the next level. Dugan’s passion for seafood could make a seafood fanatic out of someone who’s never
even tried trout.
The market, which opened a little over a year ago, offers a huge variety of seafood—from salmon to sturgeon—to satisfy every
"I’m trying to bring back the neighborhood fishmonger," says
Dugan. "Seafood demands too much attention to have it as a sideline
The Fishguy’s opening begs the question: How can a specialty seafood store survive when most supermarkets have narrowed their
seafood offerings to a handful of top-selling species?
Dugan’s customers who are unfamiliar with seafood and aren’t
chef material get sent home with a fresh, ready-to-cook seafood meal
prepared at the store.
The focus, first and foremost, is on selling quality seafood with good customer service.
Dugan trains his 10 employees to work with customers on the retail floor, which is where he spends a lot of his time.
"A lot of people’s first few experiences with purchasing seafood
were disastrous because they bought it at a supermarket," which usually
has high shrink, high prices and does little to educate customers about
how to handle seafood at home, he adds.
Dugan is uniquely qualified to be teaching his customers about
seafood. He’s been in the seafood industry for almost 22 years, with a
career spanning stints as a wholesaler, retailer and aquaculturist. His
first seafood venture, in the late ‘70s, was a wholesale business in
California that he operated out of the back seat of his ‘57 Rambler.
Dugan, 42, is also credited with introducing farmed sturgeon to
the seafood industry earlier this decade. His work with sturgeon
eventually led to his wholesale business, Superior Ocean Produce, which
supplies fresh seafood to 30 of Chicago’s high-profile restaurants,
including Charlie Trotter’s and the Ritz-Carlton.
Ordering product for both wholesale and retail operations
permits Dugan to carry 14 to 20 different types of fresh finfish and a
dozen shellfish species for The Fishguy.
The fish that is cut for market is pulled the day after it’s
put in the display case if it doesn’t sell. Dugan incorporates the
day-old seafood into a wholesale order or prepares it for a
ready-to-cook take-home meal, a cycle that keeps the market stocked
with a constant supply of fresh seafood.
With the help of an in-store chef, The Fishguy is dishing out a
full menu of ready-to-cook and value-added seafood dishes that are
convenient for customers and serve as examples of how seafood can be
prepared at home.
Customers can start their meal off with dishes likes pasta with
fresh shrimp, seaweed salad, marinated octopus, lobster bisque, clam
and mussel chowder or bake-stuffed Belon oysters.
The entrees include seafood sausages, spring rolls, terrines,
stuffed pasta and pot pies. When time allows, the chef even prepares
items to order, as well as fish sandwiches at lunchtime for neighboring
Keeping product moving is essential to The Fishguy’s business.
Dugan used to give about $50,000 worth of seafood to local food banks.
He now takes what used to be shrink and uses it to create the
profitable prepared items.
Dugan’s drive to educate customers about seafood spawned into
monthly cooking classes that include dinner and wine for $50 a head.
Class size is limited to 14, and classes sell out quickly. The classes are a win-win situation, as the students come back
to The Fishguy in search of the seafood they learn to cook, says Dugan.
The Fishguy Market now accounts for 20 percent of Dugan’s seafood business, and he is aiming for it to reach 40 percent.
The retail store gives him the direct contact with the consumer
that he thrives on, and the pay is immediate—unlike the wholesale
situation, where he has to wait to get paid.
But Dugan readily admits that his wholesale business helps keep The Fishguy Market afloat. "I’m able to do well at retail
because of the wholesale," he says.
While the average onlooker’s first temptation is to suggest duplicating The Fishguy’s retail/wholesale setup, Dugan is
adamantly against expanding the store to another location.
"The future of the retail store is boundless, but I have no interest in expanding," says Dugan. "I’m committed to
remaining a small company."
Dugan’s operation may be small, but his passion for seafood stretches beyond The Fishguy and into the kitchens of all of his
customers, who are learning more and more about the benefits of seafood.