Fitts outgrows West Salem location
The sign says Fitts Seafood was established in 1901. And according to current owner Rod Purdy, it may have been around even longer. What started as a small horse and cart venture, grew into a flourishing business under three generations of Fitts men. At one point boasting three locations and half a dozen trucks, the business ran into trouble when it was sold out of the family in 1991. Purdy, a Fitts employee since 1976, took a chance with his wife Mimi and purchased the establishment in 1993.
According to Purdy, it was an easy transition after working there so long. Today, Fitts Seafood is still pretty much a family operation. Rod and Mimi retain only one employee and even their customers keep it in the family.
“I’ve been waiting on the same people for generations,” Purdy said.
So why do people keep coming back? To begin with, there’s the obvious draw of some of the freshest fish you’ll find in Salem. Rod and Mimi’s experience and connections in the industry are reflected in the quality of their products.
“It’s pretty much all I’ve done my adult life,” Purdy said, adding that Mimi also worked in the fish industry in California before coming to Salem.
What’s available varies according to the weather and delivery conditions, but the Fitts website keeps customers updated on the status of their favorite fish. The selections in the cases may change with the seasons, but Fitts will also try to accommodate special orders if you don’t see what you want.
And Fitts sells a lot more than just fish. There are noodles, rice, and sauces to accompany the fish purchases. The Purdy family also supports local business by offering selections of Willamette Valley Cheese and Cascade Baking Company bread.
“We can’t not sell that because it’s so good,” Purdy said of the bread.
Fitts also offers free-range beef and pork from Mt. Angel, and free-range poultry and game from a distributor in Portland.
With all these offerings, the current space on Edgewater has become a bit cramped. Beginning February 6, Fitts Seafood will be open in its new location on 12th St. The new store will have more room for customers and simplify the shopping process, Purdy said. And customers can still expect the same fresh fish and quality products that Fitts Seafood has offered since 1901.