Saying goodbye to Uncle Chuck’s Seafood at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market

The Macins are seen together stading in front of the business at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. [Courtesy]
The Macins are seen together stading in front of the business at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. [Courtesy]

LANDSTOWN — Early this month, just about everything was for sale at Uncle Chuck’s Seafood, and the people who came wanted to buy some of the seafood, of course, and possibly fridges and such, but some wanted signs with no more than a word or two on them, or the firewood that was a business established for and run by grandchildren, or even to take a tiny piece of the place, momentos on tables that also boasted ample oyster shells and other things from or representing the sea.

Charles E. “Chuck” Macin, who lived in Chesapeake with his wife of 51 years, Colette Macin, died on Sunday, Jan. 24. He was 74, retired from Ford, and he had found a calling and many friendships by building Uncle Chuck’s from an operation that sold seafood from a truck at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market into a destination loved by customers far and wide, even abroad. 

It’s no use trying to describe him better than Lorraine Eaton did in The Virginian-Pilot this past month. Uncle Chuck was, she wrote, “one of Tidewater’s most engaging and evangelical epicures” and “more seafood curator than fishmonger.” 

In addition to his wife, Macin is survived by daughter Daneen Stancill and son David Macin, brother Bryan F. Macin, and grandchildren, according to an obituary. He was predeceased by his parents, Charles F. Macin and Josephine Macin and a brother, Gregory Macin.

At Uncle Chuck’s, Colette Macin oversaw the sale of fish and other items on Saturday, Feb. 6, and Sunday, Feb. 7. They had married in Baltimore in 1964, moving for a management job after college with a hotel cafeteria and eventually settling in Hampton Roads, where her husband went to Ford for a career.

After he retired, a friend asked him to sell shrimp from his truck at his gas station.

“How he got into that — his first passion always was food,” Colette Macin said.

Chuck Macin was at a community market in Norfolk before he came to the Virginia Beach Farmers Market, where sales from his truck led to a shed.

“We’ve been here going on 11 years,” Colette Macin said.

If they didn’t have it, they would try and get it. That was the motto. But a number of customers recall Uncle Chuck’s as a place where they discovered things, too.

“We had all kinds of people from all walks of life,” Colette Macin said. “We really did have a wonderful clientele.”

Chuck Macin was a businessperson who believed in saving and investing for those he loved, and he shared his knowledge with others, discussing, with some, finance in addition to fishes.

Ronnie Cardinal, administrative assistant at the farmers market, said a discussion about how she had a plan to ensure each of her children had an investment in a company led to a better, more diverse plan to provide income for their future.

“He said, ‘Now what you have to look for is when these companies pay dividends,” she recalled before showing a binder of planning for her family’s future. “That evolved into this major plan. … I’m buying Johnson & Johnson in memory of him.” 

It was a stock he had told her about, something established. She added that she would miss his knowledge and his humor.

Customers and friends visited the shop during the sale, some to see what was available and others to pay respects.

Kathryn Klump of Little Neck came by over the weekend. She said she had bought shrimp and crawfish for boiling in the past, and she appreciated the selection.

“You couldn’t find it anywhere ese,” she said.

Michaela Vecerkauskas, 17, of Landstown worked with Colette Macin during the sale at Uncle Chuck’s this month. Even before she worked at the store, she had come to it, she said.

She described Chuck Macin as sweet and fun, someone who got customers to try new things. Even her. Among other things, she tried an Argentinian red shrimp.

“They’re sweet like lobster, but they look like a shrimp,” Vecerkauskas said. “You have the best of both worlds.”

Fred Jordan, a Southgate resident who owns The Garden Box next door to Uncle Chuck’s, said, “There’s nothing much else you can say — he was a great guy.”

But then there was more to say.

“Honest,” Jordan said. “Likes to talk. Chuck had customers walk up. He hadn’t seen them in six months, and he’d call out their name. Santa Claus year round, that’s what he was.” Macin even got his neighboring businessperson to try something new.

“I tried skate,” Jordan said. “Skate was something different. You don’t eat skate. You throw skate back.” 

Between customers, nearing the end of the last day’s sale at Uncle Chuck’s, Colette Macin said of her husband: “He knew and understood hard work. He lived life to its fullest.”

© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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