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Meet Jim Seidel of Carolina Meat & Fish

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jim Seidel.

Hi Jim, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
It started with a family vacation to Topsail Island off the Carolina coast in North Carolina. There was a small open-air fish market there. Nothing fancy, but they had amazing high-quality seafood. All fresh, local, and wild-caught off the coast of Carolina.

We lived in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and in this area and the Charlotte, North Carolina metro area there just wasn’t any fresh local seafood like we saw and ate on Topsail Island. No grocery stores, specialty stores, or even more local or regionalized stores carried fresh seafood like this. This is how we started. In a small storefront with the hopes that people would appreciate fresh local seafood.

We promoted the local boat captains and our local connections. We took a lot of pictures and shared them with our fans via our social media accounts. We met many amazing vendors and developed relationships with the locals who secure fishing boats from Charleston, SC to Morehead City, NC. We created and shared super easy recipes for new fish they may not hear of like Triggerfish, Sheepshead, Golden Tilefish, fresh Cobia, and of course fresh local Carolina shrimp.

We added fresh local beef options as we grew, using local farmers that specialized in the grass and grain-farmed cattle. We select only USDA Choice or above and have introduced fun cuts of meat like the Tri-Tip steak, and Hangar steaks, to the market favorites like big ribeyes, super tender filet mignon, and New York Strips.

Christmas is our biggest time of the year. Many Italians have moved from the Northeast and brought their love for the Feast of the Seven Fishes to town. This is a Christmas tradition that celebrates Christ being born and the sea with seven types of seafood. From clams, and mussels, to bacalao fish, fresh Faroe Island salmon to shrimp, and all things in between.

We also sell many products online now. One of our specialties is with our Carolina Seafood Boxes. This features different Carolina caught fish vacuum-packed and shipped monthly as a subscription. You may also purchase one-time orders, to live Crawfish, Maine lobsters, and our spicy seafood bags featuring our award-winning special seafood butter sauce. Check these all out online at www.carolinafishmarket.com.

We’ve won many awards like the Best Seafood in Charlotte from the Charlotte Observer newspaper 3 years in a row. Charlotte Magazine readers named us Best of the Best (B.O.B.), Vacation Idea online named us the best little fresh food market on the East Coast, Axios Charlotte named us one of the Best Lobster Rolls in Charlotte to doing regular recipe segments on WBTV our local CBS affiliate to many other local and global awards.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road along the way. Our business is very cyclical and we are heavily dependent upon holidays. So after the kids go back to school it does slow down for us. We try to bring in local products like take-n-bake meals to frozen dinners people can just pop in the oven.

As you know, we’re big fans of Carolina Meat & Fish Co. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
What sets the Carolina Meat & Fish Co apart from grocery stores is that 90% of what we sell is local to the Carolinas, possibly Georgia or Florida which are close to us. Grocery stores sell dry foods, alcohol, vegetables, and produce by having a pharmacy in their stores. Not much of what they sell is local. We’re always fresh, local, and generally wild caught or farm raised locally like our beef.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
It’s always a risk opening a small business. Many fail as we know, especially during COVID. We don’t have a regular paycheck like so many others do in their jobs. But we still have families to take care of. So we have to be different, we have to be special. If they can get it at a grocery store, then why come to us?

So we have to put ourselves out there and risk bringing in a fresh product for our customers. If they don’t show up, we’ll have to throw away products and that costs a lot. We’ve learned to manage those inventories and bring in high-valued seafood that people love to make and serve for their families. It’s a tight balance, but it has worked so far since 2014.

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