"He has shown me what true joy looks like through the lives of those who have nothing."
People often ask me, "How did you get into this business?" While the question is simple enough, the answer is not. As a person of faith, I have come to believe that Jesus Christ has directed my steps in ways that I could never have imagined. I have had the privilege of working with and being involved in the lives of people in countries around the world. From a small jungle village in Indonesia to one of the driest deserts on the globe in Northern Peru, God has given me a glimpse into His world. He has shown me what true joy looks like through the lives of those who have nothing. I believe He has caused me to consider those whom He has put into my path, and to care about the things that He cares about.
So this is Go Fish. We are not a Christian company. We are a company that understands our call as Christians and believes "as we have the opportunity, [we must]do good to all people" (Galatians 6:10).
In 1985, I went on my first mission trip to the country of Peru. Many unexpected things were there, including the beautiful and unique items being made by the poorest of the poor. I was amazed at the level of talent they had, as well as their desire for the chance to sell their goods. No one was asking for a handout. They just wanted an opportunity.
The day I was preparing to leave Peru for the comforts of home, I walked around a small market for a few hours, watching and taking in the sights and sounds of this foreign land I had grown to love. I watched as men, women and children tried to capture the attention of just a few foreigners, hoping that someone would give them a glance and that someone would buy what they had made.
What I saw were people from other nations - people who had never known what it was like to go to sleep hungry - arguing the prices with the poor. I witnessed men and women being forced to sell what they had made for a fraction of what it was worth, just to put food in the mouths of their children. I felt angry, and I knew God was telling me that I was never to take advantage of His poor. At that moment, I sensed God was giving me a vision of a business that would glorify Him and impact the lives of many.
My wife, Barbara, and I opened our first Go Fish store in Pensacola, Fl, in 1987. Our company purchases most of the items we sell from the indigenous people of developing nations. We never argue a price or take advantage of the poor, but always give them the dignity and respect of buying these hand-crafted goods at their asking price. All we ask in return is consistent quality. We have established meaningful long-term relationships with many families and individuals. Through the efforts of Go Fish staff, store partners and customers, the lives of many of these people have changed for the better.
In 2004, we chose to open other locations and currently have stores in seven states. Our franchises or partnerships are based on the premise that we can use our life experiences, skills and jobs for the benefit of God’s people.
-Curt Coleman, founder