Saturday, May 30, 2009

a market character

We get some characters here at Pike Place I won't lie. From the guy who picks old coffee cups out of the trash cans, to the Johnny Cash singin' buskers on repeat and the couples holding their wine glasses while exiting the limo for whom recession means nothing. We love them all and recognize it as one of the primary charms of an outdoor, year-round public market.

Now Michael Kennedy does not pick up other's trash and he didn't get dropped on our stoop by a stretch limo, but man is this guy a legend already. I'm cleaning out the cooler after a trip to the airport as always. shoveling ice and grabbing garbage bins. I'm cutting cardboard and rippin' through it like a mad man with a knife and all the sudden, this cat with business clothes under the iconic Grundens fish waders grabs stuff and starts telling me to go faster! "Give me something heavy to lift! What do you need man? I'm here to help" I knew we didn't hire a new guy but I did remember a care package delivered to us with pictures, a hand written note and some gifts from the Scion car company signed "Kennedy".

Kennedy has seen the FISH video, he's read the books and after a brief phone call a couple years ago with veteran fishmonger Dan Bugge (now of Matt's in the Market) he showed up to work a little bit ever since. Dan said "you want the real experience and to know what we're about, show up to work".

So Kennedy cleaned, he wrapped fish, he sent us goofy pictures, he shook hands with strangers and went home with inspiration for his daily "grind" (in his case, working with Scion cars). Here is a blip from an email he sent to his team:

From Salmon to Scion: A Study in Outrageous Customer Engagement

The Growl is Alive and Well in Seattle, WA. Who have YOU growled with lately?

Everything they do, say and think is aligned to move in that direction. Let's us continue to do our part!

What a blast. If they can make a ton of money working in the damp, cold market... and have people visit them from all around the world to photograph and video them selling dead fish... by God, we can achieve the same results selling Scions (or anything else for that matter).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Amdassadors for Good Things

Copper River is an actual river. A 300 mile river near Cordova, Alaska. Did you know that? The fish from this river usually have tags signifying their authenticity. They are big fish. They are fatty, oily, and sometimes expensive fish. The Copper River Delta, which extends for 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) is the considered the largest contiguous wetlands along the Pacific coast of North America. I don't want to sound like a PBS pledge drive, but if you've been waiting all year to buy your salmon, now is the time to do it. The kings are big and tasty and the sockeyes are the first run of the year so wild fish are here to stay for the summer months! Although we're not Pike Place Salmon market (we do sell things like buffalo fish, trout, rockfish, crabs, the list goes on..) we do get pretty amped about this particular salmon. It gets busy around here for that fish and ho man do we like that! You can pre order and have Scotty hand pick your fish off the back of his truck at the airport.

What better way to ring in the new fish season than to get some good old fashioned press? We love us some tourists and it shows apparently. Besides the larger than life size photo of Justin in a window display up Pike St., the group Tourism Matters made a real effort this year to emphasize the importance of visitors to our city and commerce. Capped by a gathering of around 300 at Westlake Center, Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau rolled out the red carpet for us. Justin went up to the gathering for us and accepted the award for Seattle Tourism Ambassador of the Year for 2009.

"It's not so much what we do at Pike Place Fish for tourists, it's more about who we are and what we want to be for ourselves and for where we work and live. This is our city and we want people to want to be here so that is basically what governs, ya know......walkin' down the street and picking up a piece of trash or asking someone if they need help with directions"

We love what we do, it's not an act. We are having fun at work because we want to have fun with our day and our life. We sell awesome stuff and make this one of a kind market come alive, what's not to love?

low flying fish for the man in the Tuxedo!

After 12 hours of talking with people, cutting fish, shoveling, yelling, talking on the phone, what do you think we do?
I'm sure we can all have our ideas of what a fishmonger does in his free time, but for one particular evening last week, I'll flat out tell you it didn't involve binge drinking, swapping tales of the sea, or tying up holes in our nets for the next day's "catch" (sorry to bust up your fantasy, but we don't fish too much).

Yes, this night involved black ties, elaborate lighting, a full orchestra, a composer named Mateo and a big thank you to the top donors of Children's Hospital of Seattle at WaMu Theater. Everyone's time was a donation that Thursday including the musicians (an orchestra and Natalie Cole) the Starbucks barista who made lattes to the beat, and the eight of us who threw fish to Mateo "Matt" Messina's piece for the evening "low flying fish". Although the event was not a benefit, we all knew why we were there and why we said "hell yes" when Mateo asked us to be part of it. "A lot of these people who are here are not from here in Seattle and don't know you guys are in the presentation so just have fun and I know it will be contagious!" said Messina.

We fishmongers were reprising a performance that we did three years ago for Messina at a similar event at Benaroya Hall for Children's Hospital. He travels the world, scores movies and composes full symphonies, and now a new bullet point on his resume includes coreographing eight tatooed, exhausted and smelly fishmongers from downtown Seattle.

The yelling and energy that we bring to our work is one thing but when our "work" is brought to a new audience in a new context, you know we're somewhere in the right ballpark of our intentions. 12 years ago, Dicky said "why not Pike Place Fish the movie?" and the next week, Free Willy showed up and the folks from Charthouse made the best selling training video in the world. Recently, we said World Peace and our own backyard of Seattle Children's Hospital is an awesome place to start! Who knows where you'll pop up when you work at a fishmarket right?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Changing Now, Forever

A new guest at our bimonthly meeting last week brought something different to the table. Not just his appetite and some laughs, but Justin's brother Chuck came to us asking for support for a new movement. I don't want to summarize too much for fear of simplifying the message, but we at Pike Place Fish are partnering up with Chuck, Michael Beckwith and an organization called "Changing Now, Forever".

Here are some words from the site giving an idea of what we're talking about:

Featuring Michael Bernard Beckwith, renowned spiritual leader and teacher of The Secret

By now most of us have been made aware of The Secret and its simple but sublime message of believe, act, receive. And all of us have been exposed to the adage "there's no time like the present." Genesis Global, a center for spiritual living, is combining both to bring a new paradigm of goodness to Seattle and the world at large -- beginning today.

Good stuff, but most important is that some events are showing up for us in our new set of intentions for world peace. We improved our logo, put it on our shirts and our hats and now we can get involved with a group doing some great work toward a new goal for world peace!