MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW) — According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report, the seafood industry has been hit hard by the pandemic with seafood harvesting and consumption being down.
NOAA’s report said the coronavirus pandemic has taken away about a third of the commercial fishing industry’s revenue.
Local seafood markets say despite the challenges, their businesses have come out on top with record-breaking sales.
Seafood suppliers like Wicked Inlet Seafood in Murrells Inlet had to adapt their business when restaurants started to close last March.
“Pre-COVID we were a restaurant and wholesale supplier. Then COVID happened, shut our market completely down. Since then, we’ve been building a direct consumer retail business,” Dylan Foster, the Owner of Wicked Inlet Seafood said.
Foster said he got creative with his business, expanding to ship fresh seafood locally and nationally.
“As a business owner 2020 was the most terrifying year we’ve ever been through, it was also the most fun in a lot of aspects,” Foster said.
When someone orders seafood from Wicked Inlet Seafood, they can see where it was caught, by who, and when. In the Chef’s Collection, customers can order ready to eat seafood, that’s already prepared. Foster also started cooking classes in Pawley’s Island.
“It gives you the opportunity to not only support a local industry like fishing and feed your family a healthy wholesome meal that you can cook there at the house, but you’re getting the same experience you would at a restaurant,” Foster said.
Founder and owner of Murrells Inlet Seafood, Rick Baumann said, “we have found that people are dining at home more, buying their food, and cooking at home more during the pandemic.”
Baumann said since the pandemic started, his business has had record breaking sales.
“They come in here for fresh seafood and they’re returning more often than my normal typical local customers would. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve had 9 straight months and this will be our 10th of record business,” Baumann said.
Baumann said 70% of his sales are from locals and he’s thankful for their business.
“South Carolina is a strong group of people, we don’t get beat up by hurricanes and stuff. We just get up. We help each other when we need to help each other and we keep moving and that’s what we did this year,” Foster said.