The 100 year history of a fish shop in Falmouth’s Arwenack Street is opening a new chapter after the brothers who ran it have retired after 30 years.
Phil Crowle, 55, and his brother Dave, 58, have seen a lot of changes in the town and in the local fishing industry, and have decided to sell the shop, Arwenack Fisheries, to former fisherman Nick Stirzaker.
The pair decided to go into business together in the 80s, when Dave had been working for a fishmongers in the High Street for about six years, and decided there was “more money in working for myself than for someone else.”
Phil had been a boilermaker at the docks, but was out of work, and so the brothers took the business over from the previous owner, becoming the fourth generation to run a fish shop on the site, with a loan that was paid off within three years. Over the years, business has changed. Phil said: “The biggest change is the big supermarkets coming to the town. There’s less footfall for people and there’s lots of places people can buy fish nowadays, but quite a large number will still make the effort to buy our fish down here. The key to our success is we do buy fish locally, off the fishing boats here.
“We have our own cold room in Flushing. Getting crab and boiling it on the same day is unique, you never see it with supermarket stuff. People who understand that come here and support us.”
In their time they say they have had a lot of ‘characters’ as customers. “Sadly,” says Phil, “a lot of them have passed on. It’s the new generation who are buying fish, and they want it a bit different to perhaps our style of fish. Nick does sashimi, which we never would, and ready meals and fish pie mix for students. There’s a big market for students in the town, they’re often very busy and so buy the meals ready prepared, which will work very well for Nick.”
The brothers used to work seven days a week, including staying open until 10pm selling cockles and mussles in the summer months.
Dave said: “When it was busy in the summer months, all the shops used to stay open late in the evenings.”
Phil added: “The winter months can be a bit slow here. Over the last winter, with the bad storms, it was about the worst we’ve had here in 30 years. You couldn’t get the fish in and people stayed at home, but come Easter the town came back to life.”
Phil who has two daughters and a son, and Dave who has one of each, described themselves as having a close family, and said they had never had any problems with working together.
They have decided to retire now, they said, to enjoy “a bit of sailing, fishing, and gardening, and have a bit of tranquillity.”
Dave said: “It’s just age, and we want to go and do a bit of travelling. Young people did it but we didn’t get the chance, just went straight from school into work, no university.
“And we’ll be here to help Nick, any time he wants us.”