In 1984, a young woman named Pamela Barefoot had a dream: to move to Virginia’s isolated Eastern Shore and survive with her creativity. The rural coastal peninsula, bounded by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, offered a blank canvas for entrepreneurial opportunity, inspiring Pam to start her own business. Driving around the back roads in 1985, she envisioned items such as spice blends for clam and crab, two seafood species prevalent in the Chesapeake.
Setting up shop on the table in her farmhouse kitchen, she mixed seasonings and dreamed of other specialties that would embrace the flavors of the region. The “blank canvas” began filling in with all sorts of possibilities and new dreams, including the creation of local jobs, raising awareness of the region’s natural resources, and getting her new homeland on the map.
Undaunted by an ongoing wave of setbacks, Pam, with her usual dogged determination, became more intent on realizing her vision. In 1986, she entered a contest in a national women’s magazine and wrote: “I envision someday having a multi-faceted operation … including mail order, wholesale regional foods, corporate gifts, and a retail shop.” Her entry netted an award of $ 7,500 and major national publicity. Business steadily increased, and like the blue crab of its logo, underwent several moltings. In 1998, the company purchased five wooded acres for a building in the Accomack Airport Industrial Park.
*Today Blue Crab Bay Co.® markets specialty foods including award-winners such as Sting Ray® Spicy Bloody Mary Mixer with Ocean Clam Juice and Chesapeake Bay Seasoning; coastal-themed snacks such as Barnacles® and Crab House Crunch™; seafood seasonings and fishnet-wrapped gift packs. The dream that started on a back road has become a reality. Jobs have been created, products are shipped internationally, and the Eastern Shore is finally on the map.
In late 2016, Elizabeth Lankford, an Eastern Shore native, became the new owner of the company, ensuring its continuing legacy as a woman-owned business on Virginia's Eastern Shore.