Good news for seafood lovers who shop online: Jet.com is teaming up with The New Fulton Fish Market in Hunts Point, offering more than 25 varieties of fresh seafood to its customers across the country. For New Yorkers, this means same-day access to seafood ranging from jumbo scallops to sustainably-caught domestic lobster.
And good news for food industry workers: that means more jobs will be coming to the Hunts Point peninsula.
Similarly to Amazon Prime, Jet.com allows customers to pay a lower price on products if they meet certain criteria (i.e.buying two or more of an item, opting out of free returns, or paying with a debit card).
Fulton Fish Market, the second largest wholesale fish market in the world after The Toyosu Market in Tokyo, opened its doors in Hunts Point in November 2005 after moving from its historic location on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Since then, businesses that operate out of the 400,000-square-foot facility have been selling seafood to restaurants and individual consumers via their online platform, FultonFishMarket.com.
The new partnership came about after Jet looked to increase its access to local grocery distributors in New York City, according to a statement from Jet.com’s president Simon Belsham. At the same time, Fulton Fish was looking to expand to use third party selling sites. The two linked up in December 2018 and made their first series of deliveries last February, said Andrew Crown, head of business operations for Fulton Fish.
“We both realized how convenient the locations would be,” Crown said, referring to Jet’s 200,000-square-foot distribution center just North of Hunts Point. According to Crown, his team had to work on curating the products, setting price points, and figuring out how adding more deliveries would work for its 18 person operations team. Seven employees from that team live in the Bronx, he said, adding that the company is seeking more local workers.
“Because of the location we’re in and because of a lot of the jobs that we have involve driving around this area, locals are the best way to go for us,” he said. “We understand that it’s not easy to get here.”
According to Fulton Fish’s management team, the market’s operational staff has grown more than 50% over the last year, and will grow even more as a result of the partnership, with new jobs processing, packaging and shipping its products to customers.
Kevin Bernard, 39, who lives in Mount Vernon, said he had little to no food experience before coming to Fulton Fish, but that a small amount of training was all he needed to begin a job in packaging.
“Once I got it and got a grasp of the concept they have, I’m all in,” said Bernard, adding that he enjoys working nights.. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Crown acknowledges, however, that working the floor at Fulton Fish is not ideal for everyone.
“For the most part, you work in a freezer for 8-12 hours on your feet,” he said. “You have to be very adaptable to change, it’s loud, it’s not the most comfortable working conditions.”
To compensate, the businesses offer incentives to employees who help attract new customers. Staff are given business cards with personalized coupon codes which they can hand out to interested consumers. Employees get a fixed dollar amount for every customer they refer to the website.
For now, many of the market’s workers are hired from other seafood distributors in the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, but soon referrals aren’t going to cut it, said Crown. So Fulton is looking to expand to a third party hiring website.
“We’re not in a position to turn many people away.” said Crown about the growing number of operations jobs. Some employee’s hours are being extended, which calls for added shifts on the floor.
For Bernard, the addition of Jet orders means more opportunity for moving up in the company. He added that he’s observed other employees get promoted.
“Watching my boss go up in the ranks gives me hope,” said Bernard. The salary and benefits are great, he said, for those who don’t mind the conditions.
“That’s the main thing is getting used to that freezer,” said Bernard.
And the constant smell of fish during a shift?
“I don’t even smell it anymore.”