Williams Seafood Market and Wines is closing Saturday.
Owner Mike Offield said he made the decision early this week to close the longtime seafood and gourmet foods store.
“It’s not taken lightly,” he said. “This isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.”
But, “it’s just too much.”
Offield, a longtime-customer-turned-proprietor, would have owned Williams Seafood for 10 years come November.
The business has been an Inland Northwest institution since the 1940s. The third owner, Offield bought the market in late 2006 from Vince and Margie Perry, who bought it in 1988 and expanded the wine selection.
Offield added 150 microbrews and expanded the gourmet foods side of the business while maintaining its backbone: top-quality fresh, frozen and specialty seafood items - from lobster tails, calamari and octopus to Chilean sea bass and Dabob Bay oysters.
Dick Williams opened the original Williams Seafood Market in the 1940s in downtown Spokane. In 1980, it moved to 10627 E. Sprague Ave.
Offield moved it to its current location at 2118 N. Ruby St. in Spokane five years ago. The Spokane location is “twice as busy,” he said. But, “it’s not enough. It’s just not enough folks coming in and buying stuff.”
Foot traffic isn’t the only reason he cited for closing. “The last two crab seasons have not been very good,” he said.
In December, when many people buy crab for Christmas, a large algae bloom – which increases levels of domoic acid in shellfish and can make them unsafe to eat – had West Coast crab fisheries on hold. The shortage drove up prices, too.
The windstorm in November didn’t help, either. The store lost power “for four or five days. We had to throw a lot of stuff away,” Offield said, adding, “We never bought by price. We bought by quality.”
When he got into the business more than nine years ago, he was a single man. Now, he’s married and has a child. He wants to spend more time with his family, he said.
“We’re sad. I’m not going to lie. It’s not something we planned. We planned on being around for a long time. You don’t get into something to close it,” said Offield, noting five people work at the market.
“It’s not easy. I care a lot about these people. I care about our customers,” he said. “What I want to tell our customers is we’re thankful for the support they’ve given us over the years.”
Williams Seafood is open from 9:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday and 9:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Offield, who turns 54 in May, had worked as a salesman before buying the store. When it closes, “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “Whatever direction God takes me is where I’m going.”
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