Since 1973, Swanson’s Fish Market had provided fresh seafood and great service to Fairfield, Connecticut residents. The store’s current owner, Gary Swanson Jr., had inherited the booming business from his father, “Gerry” Swanson, who founded the company shortly after he arrived in America from Sweden. For most of its existence, Swanson’s had an enviable customer base of loyal fans and a stellar reputation, and it seemed Swanson’s Fish Market was a permanent Fairfield staple. However, nature had other plans: an attic fire in 2009 destroyed their brick-and-mortar location, and after nearly 40 years in business, Swanson’s was forced to close, while Gary Swanson, Jr. scrambled to come up with a plan to save the family business.
In an attempt to restore the building and reopen the market, Gary Swanson Jr. accrued nearly $1 million in debt. With rising debts and family tensions to match, Swanson’s Fish Market was on the verge of closing its doors permanently.
The Swanson Family turned to The Profit to help save the floundering Fairfield favorite.
Swanson’s Fish Market on The Profit
The Profit Season 2 Episode 11
Marcus’ first visit to Swanson’s Fish Market was telling. The business was in a prime location, with plenty of opportunity for foot traffic. The quality of their fish was clearly top-notch. Yet despite these considerable advantages, the company was failing in some key areas: the store was sold out of some of their most popular products, which, of course, was costing the business money – even your most loyal customers will go elsewhere when you’re out of stock. To make matters worse, Marcus learned that the employees severely behind on their paychecks, and that the business was spending what little money it did receive just to stay afloat – with employees often using personal funds to purchase inventory for the store.
When Marcus met Gary, he complimented him on the prime location and beautiful building. Gary revealed that he was the actual owner of the building. He noted that the mortgage on the building was just shy of four thousand dollars. Gary rented space to two other businesses in the building and charged rent that more than covered the mortgage payment. While this should have been a lucrative position for Gary to be in, this money was mismanaged, and Gary was struggling to pay the bank on time.
Gary told Marcus that Swanson’s Fish Market brought in roughly $150,000 a month from the sale of fresh and prepared foods and that the business should be turning a profit of approximately $50,000 per month. Marcus was confused about how the company was still struggling. However, when speaking with the rest of the family, Marcus heard another side of the story. They had debt in every direction Marcus looked. Gary couldn’t keep up with vendor bills. He admitted to taking deposit money to pay personal bills. Susan’s car was paid for with company funds. With cash being grossly mismanaged in every aspect of the business, the company was hemorrhaging cash – losing thousands upon thousands of dollars every month through cold, hard financial incompetence.
Marcus got to work figuring out how he could help the Swanson’s family business rise from the ashes. He offered Gary $1 million to buy their building. The building purchase would allow the family to own 100% of the company while giving them ample funding to pay off their debts and give them some working capital. However, the $1 million would go into an escrow account, and attorneys would be involved, making sure everything was clear before he wrote Gary a check. Additionally, all the freed-up cash would go to pay off debts and bills first before Gary could get any capital out of it.
Marcus had several suggestions for Gary on how to better operate Swanson’s Fish Market, including various ways the family could increase their profits. He suggested adding more prepared foods, as it would be a tremendous benefit to the business. Not only is it easy for customers, but the profit margin is double that of the fresh fish. (A quick conversation with some of the customers validated this suggestion as well.) He also suggested capitalizing on the loyal customers’ love of Swanson’s prepared foods and pushed Gary to open a restaurant in another area of the building.
Marcus provided Swanson’s Fish Market with new equipment, refrigerators, and a produce section for the storefront, as well as samples from the new prepared foods menu to customers. Community excitement was building, and it seemed that everything was heading towards success.
Unfortunately, that’s where Swanson’s luck ended. Upon Marcus’ next visit to the store to see how the company was handling the changes, he got into an argument over finances with Susan. This argument prompted Marcus to take a closer look into the building’s records, where he found that the building was in active foreclosure. To the surprise of absolutely no one, he immediately backed out of the deal.
Swanson’s Fish Market Goes Belly Up After The Profit
After the show, Larissa, Gary’s daughter, took to the company’s website to post a rant about the television show process. The family accused Marcus and the show of editing footage to purposefully make the business look bad. Included in her rant was a screenshot of text messages between her and Marcus where she informed him of the foreclosure before he supposedly found out about it in the show. The website where this was is no longer available. (Ouch.)
Reportedly, Swanson’s Fish Market kept the equipment Marcus purchased on their behalf. While still in business, they continued to sell about equal amounts of fresh fish and prepared foods. So even without the full restaurant and the larger aspects of Marcus’s deal, they continued to run a successful business using the plan he gave them.
Unfortunately, after 45 years of being in business, Swanson’s Fish Market closed on New Year’s Eve, 2018. Gary says he closed the company to retire. In its place is a new local deli.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Swanson’s Fish Market, The Profit, or any of their subsidiaries.Sponsored by an Austin SEO company