“It’s not the economy,” said Hugh Campbell, 65, of Rockingham. “We are at the age to retire, so that’s our reason,”
Campbell and his wife Judy, 63, have lived in Rockingham all their lives, except for a four-year period. During that time the Campbells relocated to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota while Campbell served in the Air Force.
Campbell said he bought the grocery in 1980. Prior to running “just about the only place around that served fish” according to Campbell’s wife, Campbell worked in the grocery industry for 22 years, gaining experience he said helped him start something completely new and different.
“The dear Lord provides what we need,” said Campbell as he told of the variety of fish they sold over the years, like flounder, whitting, mullet, catfish, shrimp and oysters - and black bass and brim on special occasions.
Campbell shared that he “wasn’t much for throwing anything away” and became resourceful during harder times by selling used cooking oils. He said when the Campbells first opened he told his wife they would make an effort to sell quality foods to his customers. He said they did not want to fool their customers, and that “if we do that we won’t be here long.”
“I’d like to thank all of my customers over the years. We’d built a good, reputable market. We’ve got a big variety of foods in the kitchen and good compliments from people coming back,” Campbell said. “I’ve got to recognize the customers, because I couldn’t have the business otherwise.”
Campbell said the older clientele of Rockingham kept him going.
“Young people are not coming to buy fish; they can’t cook. If it wasn’t for the older people, I couldn’t have made it,” Campbell said.
He treated the kitchen at the store like his own and said he would only serve to customers what he would put on his own kitchen table to eat with his family.
The Campbells have seven grandchildren to keep them busy while they enjoy their retirement, as well as things around the house like painting and yardwork, according to Campbell.
“This is the last fish I’m going to scrape; the last fish you’re going to cook,” his wife said to him just before they closed the store for good at 6 p.m. Friday. “I thank the good Lord for everything. I hope He’s got many more years for us.”
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at 997-3111 ext. 15 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.