In the shadow of larger chain stores that offer a wide array of inventory - fish included - locally-owned Ocean’s Bounty Fresh Fish Market and Smithtown Fish Market continue to keep their own inventories focused, fresh and fishy.
Nestled back on 25A in St. James is the mom-and-pop shop Ocean’s Bounty Fish Market. Having been around for 12 years with the same owners - husband and wife, Mark and Gail Nelson - the establishment has seen its ups and downs.
“People have come and gone,” said Gail. “But we’re still here.”
Being one of two fish markets in the area, Ocean’s Bounty faces competition and
challenges, mainly being largely in the form of Costco and supermarkets, said Gail. The biggest challenge they encounter is the changing economy, which has caused the price of fish to rise tremendously. Because of the rising prices, most residents would rather spend less for fish that isn’t necessarily fresh or the same quality, said Gail.
“Fish is a very healthy protein,” Gail said, “but it unfortunately has become a luxury item.”
Being around since 2000, The Nelsons have retained a vast customer base during their 12 years in business, yet attract new customers everyday, mainly by word of mouth. Throughout their time there, the couple have made a real connection to the neighborhood taken a customer-first approach, even making calls to regular customers when fresh seafood they are partial to comes in.
“We are more about customer service,” said Mark. “That’s what keeps us here.”
Ocean’s Bounty Fish Market mainly supplies shellfish from Smithtown waters and even some local lobster. It is open seven days a week all year round, weekends and holidays included.
Another local seafood supplier, wedged into the Uncle Giuseppe’s shopping center on Route 111 in Smithtown for the past seven years, is the Smithtown Fish Market. It has been around and run by Eunkyung Kwon for seven years.
This small business run by Eunkyung Kwon faces similar challenges to that of Ocean’s Bounty; namely rising market prices of fish in the face of an ever-competitive marketplace. According to Kwon, her business brings fish in from a fish market in the Bronx, which is raising their its costs on seafood.
Along with higher prices, Kwon also experiences competition with her market. Being located so close to Uncle Giuseppe’s, Kwon said people are more inclined to go there instead, preferring the convenience of shopping in a larger market setting.
Kwon said that while the market isn’t too busy, she also experiences a good amount of business each day.
"Around 30 people come in per day,” said Kwon. “Flounder is our most popular item sold.”