MOUNT PLEASANT - Magwood's Seafood has been sold, popping a large crack in the hull of the sinking Shem Creek shrimp industry.
The Haddrell Street institution will still sell shrimp, at least for two more years. Wayne and Rocky Magwood, his nephew, plan to continue shrimping from the Winds of Fortune. But Wayne Magwood described the operation now as renting.
North Charleston construction company owner James "Bubba" Simmons recently bought the business and adjoining drystack marina for about $1.1 million, about $1 million less than the asking price. Simmons is a construction company owner who formerly had property nearby and helped finish the drystack. He has formed Simmons Marine and Seafood LLC.
"For now I will continue to let Wayne sell his shrimp," Simmons said when asked his plans. "In the meantime, I am going to update the drystack marina and make it a family friendly place to be on beautiful Shem Creek."
Wayne and his brother Scott Magwood sold the property apparently without any liens on it, according to the deed paperwork filed early this month. But Wayne Magwood said a loan had been called, or forced to be paid, declining to elaborate.
"It's one of those raw deals," he said.
Today's touristy Shem Creek dining and recreation destination was built on the picturesque heritage of its shrimp trawlers with their outriggers and slung nets. It was the creek where residents flocked to buy shrimp fresh off the boat, the spot where so many shrimpers operated that they tied off to a moor stacked up three wide. The name Magwood has become synonymous with shrimping there. The late Junior Magwood, the brothers' father, first went out in the 1940s as a young teen apprentice to a cousin operating from the creek. "Cap'n" Magwood went on to become a revered Lowcountry figure, often seen mending his nets at the dock.
Wayne Magwood is now in his 60s. The tradition is aging out. Shrimper after shrimper is giving up the trade, driven out by catch difficulties, higher costs, marketing difficulties and prices that haven't kept up.
The remaining captains and their boats are as weathered as the patchworked hull of the Magwoods' Winds of Fortune.
Only a fourth of the boats operate today as did in the peak years two decades ago, and only a half dozen or fewer from Shem Creek. Wando Seafood, a shrimp business that operated just downstream from Magwood, closed earlier this year.
Today, the creek is crowded by power boats, kayaks and paddle boards.
"We're still in business. That's the big thing," Wayne Magwood said when asked about the sale. "We're still selling shrimp."
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