N.C. duo takes baby steps into retail, wholesale seafood
Their start in retail seafood wasn’t glamorous, but it certainly worked out. Locals Seafood partners Ryan Speckman and Lin Peterson began selling local shrimp on the side of the road in Raleigh, N.C., four years ago.
“It was an experiment. We both had day jobs during the week, and were selling out of the back of the truck on the weekends. As it grew, we saw there was a demand for local seafood and people just weren’t getting it,” Speckman said of the partners’ retail operation.
The following spring, Speckman and Peterson were asked to sell local seafood at two farmers markets. Demand at similar venues around the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill region quickly grew, reaching a total of nine last year. The partners found their niche in the retail seafood arena by building one-on-one relationships with customers at the markets, selling only local seafood, and forming a type of community supported fishery (CSF) program.
“We do a subscription service or share program, which starts in March. Subscribers prepay for 10 weeks of seafood and each week, they get 2 pounds of our choice,” Speckman said. Subscribers pick up the seafood at farmers markets. Because Locals buys in quantity from fish houses, consumers in the share program essentially get a wholesale price. As with CSFs, they get whatever seafood is in season that week: It could be shrimp and tuna or mullet and bluefish, or a number of other combinations.