A Dream, A Drive and A Vision: The Story Behind Blue Crab Bay

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 to create local jobs, raise awareness of the region’s natural resources, and get her new homeland on the map. Not long after she began, she rented space above a waterfront restaurant and immediately experienced a devastating fire. She moved her fledgling business back home. Then Hurricane Gloria hit, causing significant damage.

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 multifaceted 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, the company underwent several moltings. As it grew, it moved into larger locations until finally, in 1998, Pam purchased 5 wooded acres for a building and announced a new corporate name: Bay Beyond Inc. Her hard work and motivation were paying off: In 1999, she was named Virginia’s Small Business Person of the Year, and in 2003 the U.S. Small Business Administration tapped her as one of the nation’s Outstanding Women Entrepreneurs. A more recent honor was the Chairman's Award for Resilience from the Tayloe Murphy Center at the University of Virginia (2011).

Today Bay Beyond Inc., a Virginia certified women’s small business enterprise, markets the Blue Crab Bay Co.® brand of specialty foods, which features award-winners such as Sting Ray® Bloody Mary Mixer with clam juice and Chesapeake Bay Seasoning; coastal-themed snacks such as Barnacles® and Surf Doggies®; seafood dip kits and fishnet-wrapped gift packs. Product expansions include Blue Crab Stoneware by Dovis Designs© and Bay Beyond® gourmet shelf-stable imported crabmeat.

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.

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