RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — April, May and June are the most important months for Raleigh-based wholesaler Locals Seafood.
But, sales to restaurants are down 95 percent due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the company has already laid off staff.
Locals is now going back to the basics to keeps its head above the proverbial water.
“First and foremost, the health and safety of not only our employees but our customers is at the forefront of our concerns right now. So we’ve implemented a lot of policies and protocols to deliver that safety to our customers and staff. Now we’re going to the customer and home delivery. We’re filling that void we lost with the closure of restaurants with home deliveries multiple times a week. We’ve noticed in the last few weeks is a pretty big success. We’re actually surprised at how many people signed up for that,” said owner Ryan Speckman.
Speckman says people are also asking for meal prep kits to come with their seafood order. They’re avoiding the grocery store and finding another way to pass the time at home with their family by cooking what they normally might not.
“One of the great things about us is we’re in a very unique position. We control our own supply chain, so it minimizes the amount of hands that have touched the product. We go to the coast, bring it back, process it in Raleigh, and send it out and deliver it to your doorstep. Very few people have actually touched that product,” Speckman said.
Locals is still delivering to markets and grocery stores. But, Speckman says fishermen are really suffering. Some are fishing little or not at all.
The seafood industry is a major economic driver in North Carolina. While the state is a big consumer, there is also a tremendous amount of product sold across the nation and to countries like China.
With the world at a standstill, there’s a problem.
“The markets are complete disarray. The fish isn’t moving along traditional avenues. I don’t really know what to expect this year. We’re just kind of taking it day by day. But, it’s going to drastically change prices in the market. Most of your fishermen probably aren’t going to get the same prices they’re used to in a normal year,” Speckman said.
In the meantime, businesses like Locals Seafood are writing a new playbook one day at a time.
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