Bay Beyond’s products feature Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Bay Beyond’s products celebrate the region

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce

It was Pamela Barefoot’s love of clamming and crabbing that inspired a move from Richmond to Virginia’s Eastern Shore in 1984. A year later, she and her husband, Jim Green, started Bay Beyond Inc., a company that celebrates the essence of the Eastern Shore. Under its Blue Crab Bay Co. brand, the company sells everything from coastal-themed snacks to clam juice and seaweed soap.

Shortly after opening its doors, Barefoot began mailing out brochures for gift baskets that included the company’s clam and crab dip blends. “Within a few months I got inquiries from a couple of Virginia-made product stores such as Taste Unlimited in Norfolk that wanted to sell the dips,” Barefoot recalls.

Bay Beyond, a Virginia- certified women’s small business enterprise, hit the $1 million sales mark in 1996. Today it racks up $3 million in annual sales. Along the way, Barefoot has collected several awards. She received the 1999 Virginia Small Business Person of the Year Award from the Small Business Administration and the 2003 Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur Award in the U.S. from the SBA.

Barefoot credits part of the company’s growth to product diversification.

“We started adding more seasonings and then soups,” she says.

The company’s biggest seller is the Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer with clam juice. Other popular items include snacks such as Barnacles and Dune Buggies. “We also sell Virginia peanuts with Chesapeake Bay seasoning spice.” 

Before 1999, when the company built its headquarters in the Accomack Airport Industrial Park, Bay Beyond was nomadic, moving from building to building in Onancock to find larger space. Now the company’s 24,000-square-foot space houses a small gift shop, offices, warehouse and a manufacturing area for its Inner Ocean nautical glycerin soap, handmade with seaweed from the shore’s marshes. “We do private labeling of our soaps for museums, weddings and resort gift shops,” Barefoot says.

Eighty-five percent of the company’s business is wholesale related. The remaining 15 percent comes from consumer sales.

Barefoot considers herself “lucky” to be living and working on the Eastern Shore. “When I go to work I can look out of the window, and I often see deer and wild turkey in the surrounding woods.”  During her off hours, she enjoys kayaking, fishing and catching crabs off the dock in the back of her home.

Barefoot is not alone in her appreciation for the area’s natural beauty. Visitors head to Virginia’s 70-mile-long Eastern Shore to enjoy the outdoors while fishing, crabbing or kayaking, either bayside or seaside. The Eastern Shore Bird Watching Loop includes the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Kiptopeke State Park and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Onancock features gingerbread-style homes, harbors and a growing number of art galleries. Other poplar destinations include Cape Charles and Chincoteague, which features the annual Pony Swim and Auction. 

The region’s economy
Large employers on the Eastern Shore include the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, NASA’s main facility for managing and implementing suborbital and orbital research programs; Bayshore Concrete, a supplier of various precast, pre-stressed concrete structural products; and BaySys Technologies LLC, which provides design services, refurbishments and upgrades in the VIP transport aircraft market. Small business plays a large role in the economy here. Many towns are peppered with mom-and-pop-type restaurants and retail establishments, as well as many locally owned bed and breakfasts.

Where to eat
Pamela Barefoot enjoys entertaining visitors on the shore. Some of her favorite eateries include the Eastville Inn in Eastville, which serves local seafood and uses local produce from area farms, and Bizzotto’s Gallery & Café featuring luxurious handbags and briefcases — Bizzotto is a master leather craftsman — along with tasty food selections and art. Two other local favorites include The Blarney Stone, an Irish pub, and Mallards at the Wharf, a family restaurant with water views.

Where to stay
The Eastern Shore is filled with B&Bs. The Inn at Onancock features a luxurious but laid-back atmosphere with a full gourmet breakfast daily. The Inn & Garden Café, built around 1880, is a four-room inn with a fine dining restaurant. The circa-1882 Colonial Manor Inn is the oldest operating Inn on the Eastern Shore. It offers a family-style full breakfast daily.

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