It was 42 years ago when Mike Gazeley started working at a fish monger in Dundee and he’s still working for the same shop – but now it’s his name above the door.
The shop on Castle Street was known as McLeish’s when he started.
“They used to have filleting place up on King St, and a guy cut his finger on the filleting machine like I did,” Mike said, showing the scar he still sports on his thumb.
“I went there for four weeks and the guy came back and then two weeks later he left so I came back and then I’ve been here ever since.
“I was a filleter by trade and then I worked in the warehouse, and then I worked in the Broughty Ferry shop as a manager and then when became a trainer who went around all these shops training staff.”
When the firm went into administration, Mike became the manage of the Broughty Ferry store and in 2013, took over both stores and changed the name to Gazeley’s Fishmonger and Delicatessen.
His mum originally worked for the store and it’s still a family affair with his two daughters, his son-in-law and his ex-wife all working in the Castle St and Broughty Ferry stores.
Last month, the stores won Fishmonger of the Year at The Scottish Independent Retail Awards, after winning the Central award last year and the East award the year before.
“It’s good for the city, it’s not just good for me but it’s good for the city that we’ve done it,” he said.
“The thing that makes the store so good is we know customers by name.
“You can go in a supermarket and you’re just a face but here’re you’re a person.”
Many of the customers had been coming in for “donkey’s years”, Mike said.
“It’s the intimacy thing between the customers and the staff member, that’s the important thing.
“It’s the way my mother brought me up like that, you treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
“We have a laugh over the counter with the customers because we know them so well.”
That good old fashioned service is something the 58-year-old prided himself on.
“Just knowing people and just serving. and the thing I like to think I know the best is serving people.”
That included driving to pick up a whole salmon a customer had order, when it was delivered to the wrong store.
“You wouldn’t get that anywhere else and independence can do that,” he said.
“If you don’t support your local shop it’ll go and you’ll be left with supermarkets, and that’s the same with butchers and bakers.”
Mike said he had seen a lot of change since he started out in the store, including the growth of supermarkets.
“It makes it very difficult,” he said.
“There used to be numerous fish mongers in the town, now there’s only us.”
Mike still makes sure the fish comes in from local ports, and has started making more products in store like fish pies and fish cakes.
And did he celebrate winning the award?
“Yea I came home and went to work the next day,” he said.
“I was busy doing paper work but somebody called in sick so I came in.”