NORTON SHORES, MI – The owners of a longstanding Muskegon County business are saying goodbye to their “fish folk” after a 12-year run selling fresh Great Lakes fish.
The Fish Monger’s Wife will permanently close on April 9, owners Amber Mae and Eric Petersen announced this week.
“We had such an amazing run and the Lakeshore community is incredibly supportive. We’ve loved working with our ‘fish folk,’” Amber Mae told MLive/Muskegon Chronicle on Wednesday, March 30.
“Fish folk” is a term the Petersens use when referring to their loyal customers from over the years.
The Petersens first launched The Fish Monger’s Wife in 2010 by selling fresh whitefish caught in Lake Michigan at the Muskegon Farmers Market. The couple later expanded the family retail fish outlet to a permanent location on Sherman Boulevard in Norton Shores.
“There’s so many people that are still with us that have been here since Day 1,” Amber Mae Petersen said.
During its time, The Fish Monger’s Wife offered fresh Great Lakes fish from whitefish to perch, walleye and salmon.
The decision to close, Amber Mae said, was financially related.
“The last two years were exceedingly challenging,” she said, noting the business will not return to the Muskegon Farmers Market.
The Fish Monger’s Wife was deemed an essential business in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“However, what has happened, we went into a pandemic and didn’t have the necessary savings accounts to get through the two years. It’s a bigger problem than just the retail,” she added.
She said 60% of what is caught by a commercial fisherman is sold to the wholesale restaurant market. In 2020, with restaurants and supply chains disrupted due to the pandemic, commercial fisherman lost 60% of their business overnight and the industry has not recovered ever since, she said.
“But, we did some of our best work for the community during that two years,” she said. “Eric and I made sure to have fish in our community.”
Together, they donated a total of 1,000 pounds of frozen fish to four local food pantries in both 2020 and 2021. It was one of many ways to show how much the community meant to them.
“In a lot of ways, (the customers) become a second family,” she said. “You become really invested in your community and you get to meet people from all over.
“I think we have the most wonderful customer-base in Michigan right here in Muskegon,” she added.
The Fish Monger’s Wife shared its unfortunate news of closing on Facebook on Tuesday, March 29.
Within 24 hours, the post has garnered nearly 1,000 reactions, 300-plus shares and dozens of comments showing support for the business, its owners and employees.
Customers, past and present, flooded the post with well wishes, many “thank yous,” and shopping memories they’ve cherished over the years. Some commenters even shared photos of the meals they prepared with fish bought at the market.
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The business is looking to clear its inventory and is offering two three-day opportunities for people to stock their freezers with fish.
The Fish Monger’s Wife will be open 10 am to 5:30 pm Thursday through Saturday, March 31-April 2. Those hours will remain the same during the business’ final weekend, Thursday through Saturday, April 7-9.
Beyond that, Amber Mae Petersen said she is seeking employment outside of the fishing industry simply because of the limited availability of jobs within it.
“If there was a full-time job in the industry, I’d have it. Hands down,” she said.
Fishing is a part of Eric’s heritage, Amber Mae Petersen said. He’s a fourth-generation member of the Petersen Fisheries family in Muskegon. He will continue fishing and hold out to see if the industry recovers, she said.
“He has a draw that is so strong to be out on the lake,” she said. “That’s what makes this decision incredibly hard because we are an amazing team together.”
The Petersens are appreciative of the customers who have supported them over the years.
“Being The Fish Monger’s Wife has been the most amazing journey,” she said.
The Fish Monger’s Wife is located at 2127 W. Sherman Boulevard.
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