Not many people in Brunswick County know the seafood business like Phil Guyer. From jumbo shrimp to hard blue crab to yellowfin tuna, both commercial and recreational fisherman bring fresh marine fare to his market at Coastal Seafood and Propane in Leland.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Stephanie Savas Photography
Phil Guyer has been making his living by buying and selling seafood ever since opening in the early nineties. It wasn’t soon after that Coastal Seafood and Propane became a namesake in the county. What better way to stock up for the weekend cookout than at a two-in-one market?
For nearly 25 years, Guyer’s establishment has earned a reputation as the top spot to buy the freshest catch in town. Frequent customer Jasmine Crooms says, “As a child, I remember my grandparents coming here. Now, my mom frequents it and I do, too.”
Do not fault the building’s rough exterior, for there are sumptuous pearls beneath. Guyer’s market offers customers whole summer flounder still breathing on the ice; fresh conch and giant crab legs; jumbo shrimp and spiny dogfish.
Guyer and his staff not only serve up seafood that seemingly jumped out of the ocean and into their ice basins, but if customers arrive early enough, they may even see their dinner arrive in coolers through the door.
Guyer works tirelessly. His daily routine involves filling his store with hundreds and hundreds of pounds of fresh, locally caught fish and shellfish. And if the fare is farmed, it’s clearly labeled as such—and tastes just as good.
Behind the counter, it seems like the phone rings nonstop. In the seafood business, there are no officially established prices, and rates can fluctuate in as many as a few hours at the start of the morning. So Mr. Guyer is constantly asking suppliers for their amounts and their recent and incoming catch.
In fact, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Trip Ticket Program states that “60 million pounds of finfish and shellfish were landed in 2016, with an estimated dockside value of $94 million dollars.” Guyer stays on top of that seasonal catch and keeps reasonable prices in mind for his customers.
No doubt he remembers the record harvests that came in 2015. “We had the best spring shrimp we’ve ever had,” Mr. Guyer to the Star News last year. “In fact, we saw shrimp in March and our hometown shrimper said that they’ve never caught shrimp in March. We had a really good year.”
Year after year, from oysters to red drum, Guyer’s establishment has been a mainstay for many a generation. “The guys inside are so nice and funny! You can definitely come get seafood and a friendly environment all in one,” said Stephanie Taylor, who visited the shop near Memorial Day weekend, one of the most eventful holidays in the seafood business— second only to Independence Day and Memorial Day.
“I’m real busy all this week,” added Mr. Guyer, but that’s the way he likes it. He does not mind the demanding hours. He will always find a way to help his customers pick out the best catch, or maybe even get a refill on that propane tank to grill up a fillet of juicy flounder for the family.
Want to go?
Meet Phil Guyer and his friendly staff at Coastal Seafood & Propane at 301 Village Rd NE in Leland, NC.
Open Monday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; closed on Sundays. Call 910-371-2931 to ask about specials and seasonal selections.
Call 910-371-2931 to ask about specials and seasonal selections.