Heather Jenkins knows fish.
She’s been around them for going on three decades, and that seafood savvy has translated into a longstanding local business.
Jenkins’ downtown Langley store, 1 Fish 2 Fish, is celebrating its 20th anniversary from 1 to 3 p.m. this Saturday, March 17 with prizes, samples, and more at its new location, 20633 Fraser Hwy.
She and her business partner, Susan Ginter, started 1 Fish 2 Fish in 1998. Jenkins purchased Ginter’s side of the business in 2005 and the two remain good friends.
“We both had seafood experience — she had wholesale, I had retail — and then we decided to open the store,” Jenkins said.
“It was my first job when I was 14,” Jenkins said.
That was when Jenkins, now 43, started working at Seafood Plus in Newton.
In her early 20s, she decided to take the plunge and open a seafood market of her own.
“I knew I could do it well,” she said. “Langley needed a fish market, but they didn’t have one.”
“They helped me with my first initial loan because I was 23, nobody would give me a loan,” Jenkins said. “They were there, and helped me out when we started.”
The first few years were about learning the entrepreneural ropes. “I’d been managing stores and working in places for years but it’s totally different when you’re starting out,” Jenkins said. “But it was good. The community embraced us, and was happy to have us, and we just kept going.”
Jenkins and her staff cut salmon, halibut, steelhead, and lingcod on site, and have one of the largest selections of live oysters in the Lower Mainland. Among the types of fish sold at 1 Fish 2 Fish are mackerel, salmon, shrimp, scallops, halibut, salmon and Alaskan black cod.
The seafood industry never stays stagnant, which appeals to Jenkins. “It’s always different, always changes, the movement of the sustainability… we’re an Ocean Wise partner. We were the first Ocean Wise seafood market in the Lower Mainland.”
The Ocean Wise sustainable seafood program has 700 partners with thousands of locations across Canada, with a goal of ensuring “the health of our oceans for generations to come.”
“(Ocean Wise) was originally only with restaurants, but then I bugged them, saying, ‘I want to be (part of) this, too!’ So finally, they did it and now there are a whole bunch of fish markets involved, as well,” Jenkins said.
Customers who have shopped at 1 Fish 2 Fish since the day it opened in downtown Langley’s one-way portion remain faithful to the store, Jenkins said.
“I love coming to work every day and I love the generations of customers we get,” Jenkins said. “These kids used to come in at five (years old) and now they’re in their 20s with their kids, and they’re still stopping in. It makes me feel good that I’m able to serve people throughout the generations.”
The store recently relocated to a larger space, just past the end of the one-way.
Jenkins said she loves Langley’s downtown business community. She’s been on the Business Improvement Association’s (BIA’s) board of the directors for 18 years and 1 Fish 2 Fish is one of the longest-standing businesses in Langley City.
But growth with an eye toward the future necessitated the move a couple blocks east.
“Everybody loved the fact there’s more parking, more accessibility, and we’ve had a lot of new people find us that didn’t know we even existed,” she said.