SeaFood Business

APR 2014

SeaFood Business is the global trusted authority for seafood buyers and sellers. We are the seafood industry's leading trade magazine with more than 30 years of experience. Our coverage is based on the "business" of buying and selling seafood.

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Page 40 of 62

they know that local dol- lars stay here and beneft the economy," Speckman says. Despite Locals' success at farmers markets, Speckman and Peterson want to focus the company's growth with the wholesale side of the business. While all of Locals' revenue came from farmers markets just two years ago, wholesale made up 60 per- cent of the company's sales in 2013. To run its whole- sale operation, Locals rents around 3,000 square feet of warehouse space that in- cludes a cutting room, cold storage and freezers. "We had a few personal rela- tionships with chefs in the area, and are now supplying 50 diferent restaurants," Speckman says. Te whole- sale business is not nearly as labor-intensive as the various farmers markets — particu- larly the ones that are open fve days a week for most of the year, he explains. Plus, farmers markets — and retailing fresh seafood in general — come with a high amount of risk. "You can't just take all this fresh seafood out to market and expect to sell it. It takes time," Speckman says. Growing Locals' busi- ness was challenging, and the partners didn't get a pay- check for the frst two and a half years. "We invested all the money back into the What's 36 SeaFood Business April 2014 Visit us online at Ryan Speckman (left) and Lin Peterson have built Locals from the ground up. Photo courtesy of Locals Seafood Home boys North Carolina duo takes baby steps into retail, wholesale seafood BY CHRISTINE BLANK T heir start in retail seafood wasn't glamorous, but it certainly worked out. Locals Sea- food partners Ryan Speck- man 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," Speck- man says of the partners' re- tail operation. Te following spring, Speckman and Peterson were asked to sell local sea- food at two farmers mar- kets. Demand at similar venues around the Raleigh- Durham-Chapel Hill region quickly grew, reaching a total of nine last year. Te partners found their niche in the retail seafood arena by building one-on-one re- lationships with customers at the markets, selling only local seafood, and forming a type of community support- ed fshery (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 says. Subscribers pick up the seafood at farmers mar- kets. Because Locals buys in quantity from fsh houses, consumers in the share pro- gram essentially get a whole- sale price. As with CSFs, they get whatever seafood is in season that week: It could be shrimp and tuna or mul- let and bluefsh, or a number of other combinations. "It forces them to try things they would not have tried previously," Speckman says, adding that Locals' cus- tomers have expanded their horizons, and the farmers market setup allows staf to educate them. "My favorite part is talk- ing to customers about how to prepare seafood like tile- fsh and dogfsh. We like to promote these lesser-used spe- cies," Speckman says. Fortunately for Locals, a growing number of Ameri- cans are interested in learn- ing about the food they buy and want to support local businesses. "Tere is a big shift. A certain demographic is really interested in learning about the background of the food," Speckman says. "It is typically people who are into cooking and appreciate high- quality ingredients. Tey are willing to pay more. Plus, "A certain demographic is really interested in learning about the background of the food. It is typically people who are into cooking and appreciate high- quality ingredients." — Ryan Speckman, co-owner, Locals Seafood Continued on page 41 in Store 36_WhatsInStore_38btl_40SpecFeat_41jump.indd 36 3/24/14 3:20 PM

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