For more than 40 years, Bell Buoy Seafood on Edisto served up “fresh from the boat” fare. Operated by Gwen and Weldon Bell, the store sold wild-caught fish, shrimp, and crabs to both retail and wholesale customers. It also served up home-cooked items to go, including Mrs. Bell’s famous tomato pie. Mr. Bell collected antique cars, fire engines, and tractors. From time to time he would park several vehicles on display outside for visitors to admire while waiting for the day’s catch.
While it was still up and running, one reviewer described Bell Buoy as follows:
Weldon Bell is the proprietor of the seafood business and also the main fish wholesaler at Edisto. The key to Weldon’s success, however, is the kitchen that he built a few years ago behind the store for his wife. Gwen and her experienced staff clean, prepare and cook the seafood fresh from the dock and then convert it into some of the tastiest ready-to-cook casseroles you will find anywhere.
Bell Buoy sat on the banks of Big Bay Creek. After the Bells retired in 2003, the Town of Edisto tore down the old buildings to make room for the creation of Bay Creek Park.
The land was appraised at over $4 million, but in order to preserve the land and prevent its development, the Bell Family lowered its price by $1.5 million. The Town of Edisto was able to raise the remaining funds through a $2 million grant from the South Carolina Conservation Bank. A $225,000 brownfield loan from the federal government then allowed the town to decontaminate the area, which had been used for commercial purposes for decades.
Today, Bay Creek Park includes a dock for fishing and crabbing as well as open space for picnics, a gazebo for outdoor concerts, and an interpretive center that is used as an arts and crafts market on Wednesdays from spring through fall.
Reflections on Bell Buoy Seafood
Many thanks to Jane C. Brailsford, who helped us with much of the above information. She writes, “Located on the site is the town park with a small fishing pier, a lovely gazebo for outdoor concerts, and one small building that is used for the weekly arts and crafts market held spring-fall. There is a modest parking lot that serves the park and the nearby marina. Mr. Bell’s property was preserved as an open space that is used by the community and visitors to the island.”