Clint Boyd spent more than a decade working in the seafood business at the corporate level. Now, he and his wife Elizabeth want to bring what they’ve learned to their hometown Clover.
The couple, both Clover High School grads, recently opened Saltwater Markets, a fresh seafood and meat retail and shipping business at 713 Bethel St. They hosted a ribbon cutting and open house Saturday with the Clover Chamber of Commerce.
The business was built on the knowledge the couple gained and the connections they made during their years in another company that purchased fresh seafood wholesale from fishermen, then shipped and sold it to restaurants across the country.
Clint Boyd, 33, said he started out buying and selling fish for the company and later became a partner. Elizabeth, 32, worked there part time when the couple’s three children, Caleb, 9; Gracie, 6; and Maddie, 4; were in school.
Boyd said he was eventually managing employees and running the company with another executive, but the stress level was high and he wanted to do things differently. So he and Elizabeth began talking about a dream of opening their own business.
“I knew the people here couldn’t get good fish,” Boyd said, referring to the Clover community. “I decided I would start small and I would run a family business where my bride could help me and my kids could pack fish. And if the Lord blessed us, we would get big, and if it never gets big, I don’t care.”
The business sells fresh, never frozen, fish at the Clover store, but it also packs and ships fresh fish to customers who order by phone or online. Boyd said he buys the product from fishermen who pack and ship it to him.
“Why can’t regular people eat great food?” Boyd said. “We can pack it for them. We’ll pack an overnight box, and we love that because they open the box and they get beautiful fresh fish that they couldn’t get anywhere else.”
The Boyds say what sets them apart from grocery stores and other retailers is that except for crab legs, their product has never been frozen. The crab legs are frozen in sea water on the boat after they are caught, he said.
Boyd said he doesn’t keep the fresh seafood for more than two days. “Only two or three species last longer than that,” he said.
He said he sells whatever is available, with about 10 to 15 species of seafood each week, from as far north as Massachusetts to as far west as Australia and New Zealand.
“It will be whatever is in season,” he said.
The business also sells meats that Boyd said he purchases from about 50 ranchers. He expects about a third of the business to be meat sales.
“I will always do high quality, all-natural meats and any cut you can imagine,” he said.
Elizabeth Boyd said they weren’t sure about the details of the business when Clint left his corporate job in March to open the family business. “We jumped off not knowing exactly what the plan was,” she said.
They wrote and revised several business plans, she said. And they started to build the business with preorders from family and friends in Clover, distributing the product in a weekly pickup from the parking lot where they later decided to open the store. They also visited local farmers markets to tell people about their product.
The couple started with five preorders a week, she said, and soon were up to 60. “We ran out of room in the coolers,” she said, referring to coolers on the truck they used to deliver the seafood.
She said customers urged them to open a store.
“People have bought from us every single week,” she said. “They’ve been very faithful. The customers pushed us to do this. They wanted it and we wanted it.”
They scouted locations for the business, and considered other communities, but both said they decided they wanted to be in their hometown. “We wanted to share it with our friends and family here in Clover,” he said.
They renovated the space for their store before opening about two weeks ago. Now, Clint said, the business has a base of around 300 customers, which is about halfway to the goal. He hasn’t done any advertising.
“It’s all been word of mouth,” he said.
Clint Boyd said he established a lot of connections with fishermen during his years at the corporate level. “I traveled the country finding these fishermen,” he said. “I maintained those relationships. Our best friends are fishermen all over the country.”
He said anyone who handles the fish has to meet federal standards for time and temperature control to ensure the fish is always safe.
He said the family business has two components for growth. One part is the shipping business, he said, which involves packing fresh fish or meat on gel packs and sending it overnight to customers.
The second growth area is a line of related products, such as shrimp and crab dips and fish spreads, which he said they will make in Clover.
Boyd said he has been developing recipes for that line of products with the help of a chef friend, and he hopes to sell the items through grocery stores as well as at the Clover retail store.
Elizabeth said they want to grow the business in their hometown. “Clover is home to us and most of our customers are here,” she said. “We want to be in the middle of it.”
Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077
Saltwater Markets, 713 Bethel St., across from the CVS store in Clover, is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Orders for meat and fresh seafood to be shipped overnight can be placed by phone at 803-222-6057 or through the website, saltwatermarkets.com.