Despite the presence of COVID-19, Nancy Clark set out to make her dream a reality. Fish & Beyond, located at 1235 N. Main St., recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally welcome the new business to Lillington.
LILLINGTON — Nancy Clark spent much of her career working in food service. When the prospect of retirement entered the picture, Clark wanted something to do that was closer to home and in line with her past experience.
Clark eventually found what she was looking for, only she wasn’t awake when it happened.
“I love food service,” Clark said. “One day I decided to see if I could start this business. I told my husband (John) one morning when I woke up that I had the same dream three times and it was a fish market.”
With a vision in place, Clark needed to convince her husband it could work. Rather than explain her thought process, Clark took him to the source as the couple visited other fish markets and saw firsthand how much was needed to get off the ground.
“I took him out to breakfast because I wanted to show him something,” said Clark. “He talked about everything we needed, and I told him we didn’t need all of that. It’s simple. We went to couple fish markets and he saw that it wouldn’t take a lot to start one.”
In the end, what pushed Clark’s husband over the hump was the number of people waiting in line to get fresh seafood.
“He said we needed to find ourselves a building,” Clark said. “We looked at our funding, put it all together and we started it.”
Despite the presence of COVID-19, Clark set out to make her dream a reality. Knowing she had her family’s support helped Clark overcome the various challenges of opening a business, especially during a pandemic. The fact she’s also a minority business owner was not lost on her either.
“It’s really nice to know I was able to make it happen,” said Clark. “My family has been supportive since Day One when I mentioned it last year. Nobody asked me questions like what I was doing opening a business in the crisis. They have been very supportive.”
Fish & Beyond, located at 1235 N. Main St., finally opened at the end of 2020 and recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally welcome the new business to Lillington. COVID-19 played a roll in which direction Clark ended up choosing, as she believed people are more interested in eating healthy, and seafood is the perfect option.
“We have a lot of people around here who want to eat healthy,” Clark said. “Fish a good, healthy food item of choice.”
Clark signed on with Atlantic Seafood Market out of Hampstead as her supplier and already is starting to outgrow her little two-room location tucked in between Dairy Freeze and CrossFit gym. Should everything go as planned, Clark said could she see her business expanding sometime later in the year, which also could include bringing in a food truck to cook up some of that fresh fish. Customers regularly thank Clark for opening and saving them the drive.
“It’s been so wonderful hearing from people who don’t have to take a long drive anymore,” said Clark. “They say they can splurge a little more because they’re saving on gas. Before, we had to go all the way to Wake County or to the Fayetteville area, and to have one in your backyard is a lot of savings. We would like to expand, maybe by the fall, to start cooking or maybe do a food truck. We have people asking about that. We’ve seen about half and half so far: You have some people who want to take the fish home and cook and you have some who just want to get a plate and eat. Right now the goal is to get everything running as smooth as possible. It seems like we’ve already outgrown our space and I’m really shocked.”
Clark welcomed Lillington’s first fresh fish market out of the ashes of COVID-19. Clark found a retirement plan close to home doing something she’s very familiar with and it all happened after she started listening to her dreams.
Eliot Duke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-230-2038.