ELLERBE — The market for fish in Richmond County is flowing upstream from Rockingham to Ellerbe as co-owners Robert Smith and Stewart Nicholson have opened their new store — Smith & Nicholson Fish, Meat and Grocery Market — on West Page Street.
Smith began the endeavor beside 1/2 Baked on Long Drive, across from the Perdue factory, but soon decided the best move would be to find an open market nearby. That came in the north end of the county.
Smith said Wednesday that they are in the process of getting started and just got through getting building permits, but added he left Rockingham to open the new business.
“It was an open market, and people from the surrounding area, they had to come a long way (to Rockingham) to get fish,” said Smith. “We thought if we could save them some gas, we’d do that. There’s a market for it in this area. We hope to do the people proud in Ellerbe.”
Smith was raised in Richmond County and graduated from Rockingham High School. He lived in Jersey City, New Jersey after enlisting in the Marine Corp after high school, but has been back in the county ever since. Before opening the fish and meat market in Rockingham, he sold life insurance.
Nicholson retired from the trucking business after what he said was, “40 years and a million miles.”
The two joined forces, Smith said, after Nicholson helped out at the Rockingham location and enjoyed it so much that they decided to partner up.
Ordering seafood from Wilmington and Virginia on a weekly basis, Smith said they plan to have the freshest fish in town. Offering all types of fish, shrimp, oysters, crab legs and soon select groceries and produce, the idea is to have a one-stop shop for all things pertaining to fish. Hot sauce, frozen French fries and Old Bay Seasoning will soon join the menu.
“Everything pertaining to having a good fish meal,” said Smith.
“I was already in it in Rockingham, and he came along and liked it so we decided to find a place in Ellerbe and join (together in a) partnership,” said Smith. “Now we’re here, and we tell our people we know you could go somewhere else, and you came here, so we try to do them justice.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.