When the front door opens at Seaview Crab Company and customers pour in, Greg Zimmerman looks up with an easy smile and says, “What’s up man?”
Zimmerman, a co-manager at the Carolina Beach Road market, has a laid-back and easy manner. Though he’s focused and organized in his daily routine at the market, his demeanor is quiet.
Unless, there’s a song playing that he likes and he suddenly – and unexpectedly – bursts into song.
His route to working as a fishmonger was circuitous.
After graduating high school in Virginia Beach, he moved to Wilmington where he pursued a degree in aquaculture.
“I started with a business administration degree, then switched,” he explains. “I learned all about fish farming, maintaining ponds, fish growth, and species of fish.”
His plan was to farm fish, but upon graduating realized that most job opportunities for farming fish were inland. As a surfer and as an ocean lover – he didn’t want to leave the coast.
He started working for the Center for Marine Science conducting observational research on Clownfish. Soon he realized that the job was not right for him.
“There were several reasons,” he explains. “The position was funded by grants, so there was always that uncertainty. And, while I was there I could see that without an advanced degree, there really wasn’t a career path.”
Having heard about Seaview from a friend, he applied for a job in 2015.
“The owners are from Virginia Beach and the brother of one of my friends went to school with them,” he said. “I got the job, the hours were flexible and it pertained to fish.”
However, he acknowledged that the job was not without its challenges.
“There were a lot of different species of fish that I didn’t know, plus learning how to cut fish was the hardest thing,” he said. “And while you are learning the various products, you have to interact with customers who expect you to know what you are talking about.”
He adds that laundry continues to be his biggest challenge.
“Everything smells like fish,” he explains. “I get used to the smell, but it’s a little tough on the family.”
Zimmerman says that the best aspect of the job is that it is not a typical 9 to 5 and that it is always changing. He and a fellow co-manager recently obtained a license enabling them to harvest clams.
“My job has evolved and I like that,” he says. “I like the consistency of being inconsistent that comes with working in a retail fish market.”