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Author Topic: Retail Crab Sizes in Maryland-- S, M, L, Jumbo, etc?  (Read 6525 times)
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Jim Bright
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« on: March 01, 2023, 10:08:46 PM »

I crab the mid to lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have always sold to wholesalers and restaurants. This season I am selling my Maryland crabs directly to the consumer as well, I hope, and I am trying to figure out what people want--do people generally want 5 different sizes to choose from or to keep it simple should I should just stick with selling 1s and 2s? Or is this totally dependent on the customers I end up getting?

All the seafood carryout places near me and in O.C. Maryland have at least 4 or 5 different size males and some are offering females as small or large now. It also seems like places will sell #1 males by the bushel, but then cull out the jumbos and sell by the dozen. Is that just what happens now and the public is okay with that if they buy a bushel of 1s?

A lot of places sell lights, white bellies, flexers, whatever you want to call them. I usually don't keep those. Is there any real demand for lights or do retailers just get stuck with them and try to sell them?

My #1 cull is always a hard 5 3/4" crab. Based on what I have seen, and depending on the time of year, a #1 could be culled as any size legal hard male and when the crabbing gets right #1s might be 5 1/2" or 5 3/4" but I don't often hear of a crabber culling a #1 at 6" on the mid to lower shore rivers I have crabbed. If someone buys a bushel of #1s from you is it consistently the same size crab in the basket from beginning to end of the year or do you just adjust #1 crab size with the season?
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rdbeard
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2023, 11:08:15 AM »

 jim, i sell mixed size males only and females . i never get stuck with any. when the avg size is up my customers love that i give them jumbos all the way down to 5.25 inches and when the avg size is down they understand as long as all crabs are good hard crabs. i may not make as much as most but i get stuck with nothing. this don't work for most full time crabbers but it works for me and my customers. talk to stabilizer , Guy on hear he do's good with what ur trying to do although he's mid  to upper bay i think.
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partime59
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2023, 12:08:01 PM »

its done both ways around here, one guy been selling mixed for 40yrs, most break down to try and get more profit, it will be a couple years to figure out what works for you. main thing is like redbeard said to get rid of all of them. making more money by breaking into more categories requires more work on your part too, unless the help is free or family. the big holidays bring the big paydays with super jumbo extra hard 7+ going for 150-200dz. mels crabs has a recording on the company phone that gives an idea of prices and a lot of guys use that too judge market pricing for local private sales. as soon as you put something on facebook market place and craigslist the phone will ring and ring and ring, so set up a recording on a dedicated line that tells what you have and prices and if a young person in your family can run a facebook page that can handle the information also. a website works but costs, its something that is for bigger operations. let us know what you find out after the season
« Last Edit: March 02, 2023, 02:21:43 PM by partime59 » Logged
Jim Bright
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2023, 03:40:09 PM »

Appreciate the info.

Beard--like the idea of not getting stuck with crabs but at the same time I'd like to get a good price because like you I am selling a good quality hard crabs. Aren't you ever curious if you could bump your price up a bit and still feel like you are treating your customers right?

I took a look at Mel's website. I don't know a thing about the place but he must be doing it right. Been in business a long time. I noticed they have a price for #1s by the bushel and super jumbos by the dozen. So his customers expect to get no crab over 6 1/2" in a basket of 1s then right? Here is what he listed on the website:
Super Jumbos- 6 1/2” and up
#1 Males- 5 ¾” -6 1/2”
#2 Males- 5”- 5 ¾”

Are consumers smart enough realize if they are buying mixed crabs from someone like Rdbeard they are getting those jumbo crabs included and he is not culling out the hammers? I like to think they are.
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Stabilizer
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2023, 11:59:05 PM »

I crab the mid to lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have always sold to wholesalers and restaurants. This season I am selling my Maryland crabs directly to the consumer as well, I hope, and I am trying to figure out what people want--do people generally want 5 different sizes to choose from or to keep it simple should I should just stick with selling 1s and 2s? Or is this totally dependent on the customers I end up getting?

This is all just my 2 cents observation/opinion.  I also sold to a reseller years ago, and for years enjoyed just handing off baskets and folding the money into my pocket.  Sometimes right from the boat.  You will find retail customers of all types and looking for all variations of size, quality, and quantity.  The more you break down the catch there will be more potential income.  My experience is that basically no one wants smalls and very few want mediums.  But no doubt there is additional money to be made once you develop a customer base and IF you manage dead loss and have the time in the afternoons and off days to sell direct.  Your location may make a significant difference in how you decide to market and size sales.  So, keeping it simple has benefits of keeping it simple, making it more complex has benefits of additional potential income.

All the seafood carryout places near me and in O.C. Maryland have at least 4 or 5 different size males and some are offering females as small or large now. It also seems like places will sell #1 males by the bushel, but then cull out the jumbos and sell by the dozen. Is that just what happens now and the public is okay with that if they buy a bushel of 1s?

Some will, some won’t.  Some will come back; some you will never see again.  Like the size decisions, it will depend on what you want to do.  To me developing the customer base was important and repeat business was important. I sell crabs of various sizes.  But if a customer asks for a bushel of #1 or #2, I just tell them exactly what is inside of it.  

A lot of places sell lights, white bellies, flexers, whatever you want to call them. I usually don't keep those. Is there any real demand for lights or do retailers just get stuck with them and try to sell them?

No real demand.  I have one customer who likes that they are easier for her parents to peel/pick.  I end up discounting and getting a dollar or two a piece for them.  Otherwise, they die in the baskets, and you get so little for them.  If DNR imposes a limited catch, then I certainly would rather not.

My #1 cull is always a hard 5 3/4" crab. Based on what I have seen, and depending on the time of year, a #1 could be culled as any size legal hard male and when the crabbing gets right #1s might be 5 1/2" or 5 3/4" but I don't often hear of a crabber culling a #1 at 6" on the mid to lower shore rivers I have crabbed. If someone buys a bushel of #1s from you is it consistently the same size crab in the basket from beginning to end of the year or do you just adjust #1 crab size with the season?

I think you will want to indicate the cull size at the time.  If your #1s are 5 ¾ and up, #2 are legal to 5 ¾ or whatever your cutover is.  If you are also selling crabs by more sizes is where the problem is (as you have noted).  A basket of #1 have typically include up to the largest the river had that day.  But that doesn't really work when selling by various sizes as well.  So, I would again just advise what was in the #1 or #2 basket and price accordingly.

Couple other thing about the various sizing and the retail side.  It can be a real PIA when customers want a dozen or two whatever size/count of crabs and you set them aside and hope not a single crab dies before pickup.  Or you hold over an extra crab or two.  Also, you can just end up short or over by odd amounts of crabs.  And I have literally met with 25 customers on a weekend where some were pre-orders, and some were short notice, and some cold calls asking what you have.  Or people pre-order a good bunch of crabs and I have to sweat just coming up with them.  That is all the exhausting part and how you want to manage will likely be a significant input to your decision.  Good luck!

« Last Edit: March 03, 2023, 07:46:42 PM by Stabilizer » Logged

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Jim Bright
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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2023, 08:41:58 PM »

Appreciate the info Stabilizer. Get your point about location. I'm close to Salisbury, but I sell in O.C. a lot and nobody wants a #2 crab in O.C. Makes me wonder if people would drive 30 miles from O.C. to my house to get crabs. They'd get a much better price.
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