With his wife Betty, the late Dail Carmichael began a mobile vending business on St. George Island in the 1990s. Their son John, “PeeWee.” joined the small family business in early 2000 and today he and I, Anna, his wife, continue the business. In fact, many folks have come to think of us as an icon on the island, going as far as referring to Dail’s Seafood as “historical.”

We take pride in offering our product at a competitive cost. As a mobile vendor we cut costs like light and water bills, building maintenance, etc. . and as a two-person operation we have no other employees to support.

We file income and business taxes every year. The state licenses us as a mobile vendor, we are current with a food management license, we have a weight/scale permit, and a saltwater products retail license, and up until this year we also purchased a county peddler’s license.

Currently, Franklin County has ceased to sell peddler’s license, AND they plan to void the current county ordinance. In fact, they wish to ban peddling on the county right-of-way on the island. Watch future editions of the Times for the advertisement of announcement for public input. They hope to vote at the first county commission meeting in February.

By changing the ordinance, Dail’s Seafood, “the little white trailer” will no longer be able to sit where it has set for 20 plus years. It does not own property or a building on the island, nor is it an immediate option. We never expected to have our rights to sell, peddle if you will, where we have done so since the beginning of Dail’s Seafood, to be taken away.

I’m unsure how far back the complaints go, but the two most recent occurrences were in April/May 2016 and back in the fall of 2009. What it boils down to is this: A few brick and mortar businesses complain every so often because they feel threatened when another peddler comes to the island. Particularly when cooked or prepared food is peddled.

I feel the need to remind these business owners that we do still live in America where free enterprise is our right and privilege. Mr. Webster and Google define free enterprise as an economic system where private businesses operate in competition and largely free of state control. I think competition is good! It gives the consumer choices. It prevents one business from creating a monopoly and forcing one price or product on the consumer. If you have faith in your product, what’s wrong with a little competition?

Every business has loyal customers that will come through hell or high water for your product, service, price, etc. Dail’s Seafood has many loyal customers who find and follow us. Many come while on vacation in outlying areas, as far east as Quincy and as far west as Panama City. They simply prefer our product and prices and will “make the ride and see this area again.” This gives us much pride and we always and constantly tell them we appreciate the!! Not just their dollars!

However, whether on vacation or at home, folks mostly shop the businesses within the vicinity closest to them. Folks want to support the business on SGI. Not those in Eastpoint or Apalachicola, if they are vacationing on SGI. It’s the same for Eastpoint and Apalachicola. You shop where you live/vacation. How often do you hear or say yourself, “I’m not going over that bridge!/” We provide a resource that is part of the experience and loosing that basic resource, food, could be a determining factor in one’s decision of whether to vacation here.

Dail’s Seafood is part of the local community in other ways as well. We are members of the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce and the SGI Business Association. We contribute to SGI Civic Club, The Pink Out, Snow Bird Appreciation Day, etc., as well as other private or individual and not-for-profit fundraising events on SGI and throughout the county. Every time we are asked, we give.

Other businesses benefit from Dail’s Seafood being on the island; we patronize many and we always refer the island first. We get inquiries about real estate, fishing charters, local tours, fishermen, what’s happening, where to go for this or that, the post office, the gas station, the bank, the bathroom, fresh meats, places to eat, the list goes on and on.

There’s never been an accident of any kind because of where we sit. If that’s an argument, then there should be no parking elsewhere on county rights of way. What say ye, oystermen in Eastpoint who park their vehicles and boat trailers there every day? What say ye, beach goers not lucky enough to get back door beach access from your vacation rental, which causes you to have to drive and park at the public beach access points?

Dail’s Seafood uses product that comes from local seafood workers and businesses. We use Amison out of Apalachicola, three or four independent fishermen, Glass Family Oyster House (Coulter and Lynn’s in the past), smoking wood from Mr. Cletis, etc. You see, the entire community and economy will be effected if the county accepts this proposed ordinance.

PeeWee is a native, born in Apalachicola. I’m a transplant, but this is home. We depend on only ourselves to support us and we don’t mind you doing the same!

There is no problem with the existing ordinance. The problem is that a few businesses on SGI don’t want competition. While their complaints may not be about Dail’s Seafood we, all peddlers, Dail’s, Doug’s, Sandy the bread lady, the Wilkes, the produce man, and anyone in the future will suffer.

Petitions are being circulated and are online to prevent this unnecessary change in planning. We beg your support. Please, sign a petition, call your commissioner or the planning and zoning board (653-9783). Call PeeWee (850-323-2514 or Anna 850-273-1174) to find a petition or for information.

Sincerely,

PeeWee and Anna Carmichael