WESTFIELD, NJ — Display cases at Westfield Seafood that once offered fresh catches were bare on Tuesday as the longtime owner of the fish market on South Avenue West prepared the shop for its biggest sale of all: that of the fish store itself.

Vince Bruns is selling the business and retiring after 36 years of ownership. Bruns, 68, said that he is hopeful a buyer he is working with will have the shop up and running this holiday season, and that he intends to remain available to assist. But in the meantime, Westfield Seafood is closed for business.

“I am very hopeful that it will be within a couple of weeks that we’ll have things going,” Bruns told TAPinto Westfield. “It makes so much sense for the guy coming in here to be here time for the Christmas rush.”

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While many businesses are suffering during the pandemic, Bruns said, his is among the enterprises seeing an uptick in sales.

“With places closed and people cooking at home, we’ve been much busier,” he said. “We’ve been up by a lot.”

Bruns started with Westfield Seafood when it operated on East Broad Street at the location of what is now Hunan Wok III, leading the fish store while the prior owner was taking time off, he said.

In 1984, Bruns bought the business and in the late 90s moved to Westfield Seafood’s South Avenue location, when an existing seafood store at that spot went bankrupt, he said.

Running a fish market meant early mornings traveling into New York City.

“I would be in the Fulton Fish Market at 3 a.m. every morning … sometimes finding something new and convincing people that they want to eat it and sometimes just finding the best fish at the best deals on a day-to-day basis,” Bruns said.

The fish monger noted he is not the first to operate under the name Westfield Seafood, which itself has seen previous changes in ownership and dates back to 1920, “Back when there was the last virus: the Spanish flu.”

What’s next for Bruns?

“I hope to be giving guidance to the next owner here for the next couple of months,” he said. “And then I hope to have my feet up higher in the air.”

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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