In the same week, both the Pike Place Market newsstand and University Seafood and Poultry closed.
When the University Seafood and Poultry first opened, Dale Erickson was a teenager. Now at 91-years-old, he’s hanging it up.
“It’s getting harder to get the type of product we want in here,” said Erickson. “It’s getting harder to get the workers too.”
For the past 60-plus years, Erickson and his wife have worked alongside their employees to make the business run smoothly. Recently, their grandson has been working six days a week.
“Oh, it brings a great deal of pride,” said Dale Erickson – a smile breaking across his face talking about his family that’s grown up alongside him in the store.
Change is coming, though. Across the street a 24-story building will soon go up. There’s already a number of new buildings, and Erickson can rattle off a half-dozen changes in the works around the University District.
That said, the Ericksons are used to change. Long ago, the plan was for Dale’s son to take on the business. An accident left him in a wheelchair. That never stopped the family from getting involved, but as the city around them changed it became clear that the family would eventually close up shop.
On Tuesday a handful of loyal customers were waiting when they opened the gate one last time.
The first woman in line recalled a time that the Erickson’s doubled as her landlords, she paid rent inside the store. A second man recalled helping fix the old neon sign that’s sat on top of the building for the past five decades. A third, recalled walking in for the first time when he was a University of Washington student.
“You know that was 40 years ago!” said Tony Hecker said with a laugh, shaking Erickson’s hand.
Everyone had a story to share. Erickson and his wife seemed to remember every face that walked inside. Some showed up to buy fresh fish a final time, other’s had gifts to bring.
“You must have delivered eggs to our family’s restaurant for at least 25 years,” said one woman, giving both of the Ericksons a giant hug.
One woman stopped by with a giant pastry, a gift from her family. The University Seafood and Poultry used to supply a number of items for their European bakery before it closed.
“You know, you’re not just customers,” explained Jeanette to one of the long-time customers. “You’re all family.”
It feels too simple to call the closing of the University Seafood and Poultry bittersweet, but few could come up with a better description.
After decades of work, Dale and Jeanette Erickson are getting a chance to spend time together to celebrate their upcoming anniversary. Andrew Erickson will get to see his own family more.
The only problem moving forward is that Dale Erickson will have to find a new place to buy fish.
“I could still eat it everyday, believe it or not,” he said laughing. “Maybe that’s helped me get to 91!”
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