Swanson’s Fish Market to close after four decades in Fairfield

FAIRFIELD — After more than 40 years of selling fresh seafood in Fairfield, family-owned Swanson’s Fish Market will be closing its doors for good.

Owner Gary Swanson and his family are preparing to shut down the Fairfield-based fish market at 2439 Black Rock Turnpike on New Year’s Eve after a nearly 45-year run.

“It’s really became a landmark here in Fairfield,” said Swanson’s daughter, Larrissa, who has been assisting with the daily operations of the store.

Swanson’s father, Gerard “Gerry” Swanson, started the business in Fairfield in 1973 after he came to the U.S. from Sweden.

The original location was near the former Angus Steakhouse before the family moved down the street.

Through his 23-year leadership, Gerry Swanson opened four other stores in Bridgeport, Monroe, Orange and Hamden. After running the markets for over two decades, he retired and sold the markets and properties.

Gary Swanson, who grew up working in the shop with his father, took over the Fairfield location and ran it with the help of his wife Susan and his daughter.

The market closed once before in 2009, following an attic fire that virtually destroyed the building. It was repaired and reopened in 2010.

Gary Swanson ran the market for another seven years before deciding to retire from the business and pursue other ventures, according to a Facebook post by Larissa Swanson officially announcing the planned closure leading up to the Christmas weekend, days before Gerry Swanson died at age 79.

“It’s always sad to see a Fairfield business close, but even more so when the business has been an established, long-standing landmark in Fairfield like Swanson’s, and compounding that with the passing of its founder, Gerry,” said Beverly Balaz, president of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce. “They pretty much knew people by name and over that period of time, families had children and they knew the children’s names and so on.”

According to Balaz, the market has become a staple in Fairfield as the Swansons and their staff have worked to provide quality customer service while also connecting with the people who come to their shops.

“Everyone I’ve talked to has some kind of fond childhood memory of being there,” Larissa Swanson said. “People say they have great memories of being at Swanson’s and coming in for the holidays. I think everyone kind of has a memory from that place and it’s something you’ve always seen driving up the Black Rock Turnpike.”

For Swanson, her memories were of growing up in the fish market with her sister Lynette, playing with the lobsters after the shop closed, and more.

“We would just play in there,” she said. “That was our little playground.”

She said customers lamented the loss of the historic market that has served generations of customers with its array of fresh seafood and prepared meals and soups.

“I’ve lived in Fairfield for 27, 28 years and over the years come here probably a half-dozen times a year, and they always have what I want, and it’s a lovely experience,” said Gail Wolff. “The people really know what they are doing. They have fresh fish, and the other stores that I see on route to Westport are like twice the price.”

A deli is slated to take the market’s place.