Though the traditional gift is a pearl, for Net Result’s 30th anniversary just come in and buy some oysters. The popular Vineyard Haven fish market, owned by Louie and Beth Larsen, turns 30 on July 4, a date that the Larsens promise was circumstantial.

The market is five years older than their youngest son, Andrew Larsen, who is slated to take over the market once his parents retire to spend more time fishing and eating fish.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Larsen are lifelong Islanders and the Larsen family has long been in the business of fish, but the early years for the Net Result were just as difficult as any new business.

The Net Result makes 80 per cent of its profits in July and August. — Mark Lovewell

“It was tough,” said Mr. Larsen. “Thank goodness the land values on the Island kept increasing because the first few years if we couldn’t have borrowed against our house, we would've gone under.”

Despite working in his parents’ shop (Larsen’s Fish Market, which is now owned by his sister) in high school, Louie Larsen denied having any business sense coming into the venture.

“I thought if you bought it for one dollar and sold it for two you doubled your money,” he said with a laugh.

Lessons learned in the early years were figuring out the right amount of fish to purchase and to sample before you buy.

“We would establish relationships with fishermen and just take whatever they brought in,” said Mr. Larsen. “Probably my biggest mistake was I used to pay them on the spot. They always want to walk out with money in their hand, and sometimes you paid a little too much for your fish, and you would have to sell it for less than you paid for,  just to get rid of it. It took a while to figure out how to pay and not lose money.”

As the Larsens’ business sense grew, so did the market. In the beginning, fish was so cheap and plentiful they had to ship it off-Island just to maintain turnover and freshness. As time went on, however, and the Island fisheries declined, they had to look for new wholesale purveyors. Net Result currently sends out six trucks nearly every day of the week to 30 different purveyors, both on and off-Island, just to keep enough quality stock. This means putting in long hours, something that Beth Larsen said is the hardest part of owning the market.

“We’re open in the summertime seven days a week,” she said. “In the height of the season 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., which means you have to be here at least an hour after and an hour or two before. Minimum. Those are long hours.”

For 29 of the 30 years the Net Result has been in business, Jeffrey Maida has been at the Larsens’ side. Mr. Maida grew up down the street from the Larsen family and fished with Mr. Larsen and his father. When the fishing took a downward turn, he came to work at the market.

Mr. Larsen described him as his “right and left hand man.”

“We honestly care about what people get and whether they are happy when they leave,” said Mr. Maida.

The Net Result makes about 80 per cent of its profits in July and August. They have another small surge around Christmas, but only for a few days. Ten years ago they opened the take-out counter, or as Mr. Larsen says, “the we cook ‘em side” as opposed to the market which is the “you cook ‘em side.” Though fish still comes from outside sources, treats such as dips and spreads are mostly made in-house.

The take-out counter helped the business, but it also increased the workload.

“I contemplated selling out because of the amount of hours we have to work,” said Mr. Larsen. “I was glad a year ago on Father’s Day, I was sitting on the porch with my son [Andrew Larsen] and talked him into coming in and taking an interest, because I knew I didn’t want these hours forever.”

Retirement is part of the 10-year plan for Louie and Beth (not the five-year plan), and son Andrew is learning the ropes.

“One step at a time,” Andrew Larsen said “I’ve got a lot to learn.”

To celebrate its anniversary, the Net Result will declare a winner of its T-shirt design contest on July 4 at 9 a.m. and then hand out free T-shirts throughout the day.