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Meet Fred Derr of FISH in Newburyport

Today we’d like to introduce you to Fred Derr.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Fred. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Though I grew up in Ohio, I spent part of every summer vacationing in New England with my family. Deep sea fishing trips with my dad, brothers, and grandfather are some of my favorite memories. Did I think for a minute that I would someday own a fish market just south of where we were trolling? Absolutely not. But the East Coast pulled me back after college, and living on the coast increased my passion for finding and cooking great seafood. Harbor Fish Market in Portland, Maine offered the kind of choices and high quality that I was looking for, which fostered my desire for a similar fish market closer to home.

I found myself at the Seafood Expo in the Spring of ’17. Being there amongst the vendors, the fishermen, and the shop owners really reinforced this dream of having my own fish market as something I had to give some serious time and thought to. Despite having built a successful career over the course of my 20 years in sales, it was time for a change. So that next morning, I grabbed a coffee in downtown Newburyport and went to scout out some possible locations. I popped into Joppa Fine Foods and started chatting with the owner Abby; she mentioned that the location across the street in The Tannery was available. Within an hour, I was meeting with the landlord, touring the space, eyeing the massive walk-in (a HUGE plus for a fish market) and starting to feel like this all just got very real.

I talked to my girlfriend, Hillary, and we decided that it was now or never. Hillary, being a CPA to her core, laid out a sea of spreadsheets in front of me. The next thing I knew, we were signing leases and working with Refinery 43 on branding, as well as talking, learning, and tasting alongside anyone who had information to share with us (of which the list is long and to whom we are eternally grateful).

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I mean, it’s a small business; does anyone ever have a smooth road? Oysters on me if so! The biggest struggle was the ‘What are we doing?’ ‘Is this the right thing?’ ‘What if this doesn’t succeed?!’ But, I think my 20 years in sales were all just sort of prepping me for this. I tackled every challenge like I would in sales: head-on and with a full out attack. The biggest challenge in the beginning was learning the inventory, and now it is just keeping the case constantly stocked with fresh catches and hard to find items. Keep it interesting, keep it exciting, and keep it moving.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with FISH – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We specialize in impeccable quality, freshly caught, local, and hard to find seafood, but more than that, we specialize in the experience. We swap recipes, we support our local business and friends, and we have real relationships with our customers. We know them on a first name basis and vice versa; that has been the very cornerstone of our business model, creating a space that is vibrant and clean, where neighbors, tourists and everyone in between can talk shop about scampi or ogle the oysters. We try not to take ourselves too seriously, as evidenced by our shop windows and our Instagram, which showcases who we are as a shop and shop owners. We are truly set apart by the support we have received from all of those listed above and by our friends and family who have showed up to work, to paint our beloved Fisherman on the wall and to share their professional cooking techniques. Fish has our soul and personality in every facet (or rather, scale) of its being.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We plan on keeping top quality products in the case and bringing in some hard to get items as well. Oh…and working our tails off and continue to have fun and looking forward to what the future holds for us.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Kyle Gelsomini

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Sue Kilbey

    May 8, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    What a fabulous article. I knew right away you would be successful. You have the experience, the charm of course, and a love for what you are doing. Combining all three
    of those qualities, how could you go wrong?

    Congrats kiddo from a top supporter.

    Your place looks awesome! Love Sue Kilbey, Bay Village

    • Nathan Brown

      May 10, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      We love our Fred! Way to go my friend, we will see you soon!

    • Kim

      May 11, 2018 at 1:38 am

      Fred, I miss working with you but so happy that you are loving the dream! Best of luck!

  2. Chuck Titley

    May 10, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    Gotta be more fun than selling transformers Fred! Congrats and continued success!


  3. Mark Mitchell

    May 11, 2018 at 12:17 am

    I’ll be out to visit you buddy!

  4. Kate

    May 11, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Having a fish market in downtown Newburyport is a great…having a fish market of this caliber is incredible! We find ourselves in Fish at least once a week and the quality of their food, both fish and complementary items, is off the charts. It’s great to learn more about their background and how the store came to be.

  5. Bobbie Stillions

    May 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Congratulations Fred! Quite the career change. Wishing you all the best. (Do you deliver?) 🙂

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