Sometimes you find a niche hiding in plain sight.
Over at last year’s Marco Island Farmers Market, part-time Maine resident John Vogell noticed spiny lobsters on offer, but not the ones that so define his home state.
So, when the 2015/16 market kicked off Nov. 18 at Veterans Community Park, Vogell was on hand at one of the stalls, armed with a presentation table, a couple of big coolers and a steamer.
Nothing pretentious, but it was the contents of the coolers and steamers that mattered – big, juicy fresh Maine lobsters which Vogell touted at about $12 a pound.
He’d flown them in from the country’s most northern east coast state the night before, and picked them up from the airport himself. Along with the delicious crustaceans he also ordered a batch of fresh haddock, which he would price similarly.
“You steam them (the lobsters) for 21 minutes, or boil them for 12 minutes,” Vogell told an elderly couple who chose two big specimens and parted with $40 for the two.
Vogell said first day business had gone fairly well, and that the haddock sales had actually outperformed those of the lobsters. He said his prices, compared to about $17 or $18 in supermarkets, probably had a lot to do with that.
“Last year, the lobster price was up because the Chinese bought so much,” Vogell said. “This year the price is a bit more stable. They seem to be buying a little less. The price is all about supply and demand.”
On day One of the market, Vogell sold either cooked or live lobsters, but said he plans to stock (frozen) tails at future markets.
As a part-timer on Marco, Vogell enjoys (of course) fishing on his boat, but does admit to not being all that skillful an angler. He also enjoys oil painting, which he took up just a year ago.
“I’ve done about 20 paintings now,” he said, before turning his attention to another customer interested in buying some of his (very) fresh lobsters and fish.