The Fish Shop brings Oregon fish to Corvallis

The Fish Shop brings Oregon fish to Corvallis

A neon fish watches over tins of gourmet albacore tuna in The Fish Shop, a storefront on Corvallis’ Ninth Street, which opened its doors Oct. 27.

Also watching over the tins is store owner SueAnna Harrison, who also happens to be the store’s only employee.

Prior to the store’s opening, Harrison’s brand, Oregon’s Choice was solely online, selling primarily albacore tuna and Chinook salmon, all caught and canned in Oregon.

Harrison purchased Oregon’s Choice from her parents in 2020, and in doing so happened upon the perfect market.

“The two best businesses to be in 2020 were toilet paper and canned food,” Harrison said, alluding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The business started in 1977 with Harrison’s father, Herb Goblirsch selling his catch on the docks of Newport.

“He realized that if you took better care of the catch from the moment it’s caught to the moment it arrives at the cannery,” Harrison said. “It makes a better end product.”

Harrison echoed that sentiment in the ethos of her business today, prioritizing quality over quantity.

“When you have such a high quality product, you can’t really scale it … because you lose what makes it so high quality to begin with,” Harrison said, “It’s not the type of business that I want to grow to have a million employees, or try to sell it to the highest bidder someday. It really is just like a part of the family.”

Harrison also cited the strong bond with customers as a personal inspiration for maintaining the ethos of her business.

“Knowing my customers, and they know me, and a lot of them remember when my dad was selling his fish off the boat. We still have those same customers, 40 years later,” Harrison said.

Prior to The Fish Shop’s opening, the location belonged to The Foam Man, an upholstery business which attracted customers after the business had clearly closed.

“Even when the windows were all taped up, and the door was locked, and there was no signage, people still wanted to come find The Foam Man,” Harrison said.

Harrison describes herself as an environmentalist, an attribute she said she got from her parents. Her mother worked for the Oregon State University Sea Grant, in addition to playing a key role in the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association’s relocation of their Pacific Marine Operations Center to Newport.

Harrison’s father was focused on conservation as early as the 1970s, and illustrated a graphic for the saying, “Don’t teach your trash to swim!” The illustration made its way across the globe to New Zealand, where the saying was naturally recounted as, “Don’t teach your rubbish to swim!”

Harrison believes Corvallis has a unique sense of community which encourages small businesses.

“It seems like everybody really wants to support local businesses, and they will go out of their way to choose local over not, which is really cool,” Harrison said.

In addition to her brand’s products, Harrison sells products from other locally based small businesses. She also expressed a desire to connect with fellow business owners and the community as a whole.

“I’m just kind of looking to be involved in the community, professionally and personally,” Harrison said. “I want to make this something special.”

Harrison attributed her desire to collaborate to the sense of cooperation present in the Newport fishing industry.

“Every single boat you see is a small, family business” Harrison said. “They’re all working together, and they all take care of each other.”

Harrison said that ultimately, respecting the environment is paramount in her industry and others that carry the responsibility of managing local, natural resources.

“You can’t make your living from fishing and not have the utmost respect for the fish,” Harrison said. “You shouldn’t be able to make your living from a natural resource and not respect it and want to protect it.”

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    CheriNov 26, 2023 at 9:40 am

    I really hope she is successful! I didn’t know she was there. Thanks for the story.