The Fish Philosophy

Any visit to Seattle has to include a stop at the world famous Pike Place Fish Market. The organization’s culture (of fun) and their unrelenting customer focus (through direct interaction) has spawned a line of successful books, videos (translated into almost two dozen languages) and other managerial tools.

As the story goes, as the Fish Market neared bankruptcy, an employee conceived a plan to create an interactive, fun experience for customers transforming the stand from simple fish market to a world famous destination. Of course, it worked beyond anyone’s wildest imagination and its estimated that as many as 10,000 visitors stop by on any given day.

We stopped by on a Monday afternoon to experience first-hand the famous fish throwing, the gregarious mongers and the happy customers. The full Pike Place Market is quite long featuring dozens of vendors pitching fruit, artwork, newspapers, souvenirs and more. I was surprised that there were only a handful of fish vendors, since the incoming fish boats and pungent fish smell would seem evidence that the inside of the market would be rife with fishmongers and tossed fish. But this was not the case.

While the market was hopping thanks to the typically large lunch crowd, few were buying fish. We did see a couple purchase some of the lunch-portion crab salads each of whom were greeted with hoots and hollers from the employees – especially following a tip. Our local guide, Joe, informed us that the fish activity is much more active during the summer as more tourists are in the area. We might not have seen it all, but we were satisfied with the experience, and I’m sure someday we’ll see it fully in action.

Here’s a video to whet your appetite for some Fish! and a few photos.