NEW PORT RICHEY — In the first act of his life, Rich Bosse played a New York-based insurance man, a MetLife manager who worked 12-hour days and pulled in about $156,000 a year.
His second act is a little simpler: fish guy.
Last summer, Bosse, 63, opened a seafood and meat market called, appropriately, the Fish Guy, in a yellow Cracker-style cottage on Grand Boulevard that he shares with a vegetable and fruit market.
He sells everything from Cedar Key little neck clams to gulf grouper filets to sirloin steak to homemade gumbo and pierogies.
Business is a little slow so far, but Bosse is banking on an undeniable human need.
"People have got to eat," he said.
Bosse, who is divorced with three grown children, moved to Palm Harbor about five years ago after a 30-year career with MetLife. He had planned on taking it easy, though out of boredom, he picked up some extra work at Allstate.
He was playing volleyball at a Clearwater gym when he struck up a conversation with Jil Belcher, who later moved with Bosse to Holiday. The two hit it off and started dating.
Belcher's son, it turned out, had a Cedar Key clam company. She enlisted Bosse to sell the clams at New Port Richey's downtown farmers market. "It got so big, (Bosse) was selling them out of his Jeep," Belcher said.
She and Bosse thought they might be on to something, so they started looking for a cute shop where they could sell clams and other seafood. They fell in love with the little yellow house on Grand, and the rest is history.
Maybe the whole thing was written in the stars, says Belcher, a Pisces. "The New Yorker moves to Florida and meets a Pisces whose son has a clam company," she said with a laugh.
Bosse gets most of his fish from national distributor Sysco. He said he decided to branch out into poultry and red meat because "You'd be surprised how many people come in here and say, 'I don't like fish,' " he said.
Belcher said she rarely sees people leave without something. "He's such a good salesman," she said. "He's good at talking to people. He has a way of doing it that's not threatening."
It may not seem like the greatest economic timing for people just getting a business off the ground. But Bosse, who says he put about $40,000 into the business, says he has the luxury of not facing the financial pressure to turn a profit too quickly.
Besides, he says, his focus is on his own business. "I don't sit around and worry about someone else's failures," he said.
He has some stiff competition, including longtime seafood business Whitney and Son's in Hudson, but figures there's plenty of room for all of them.
"If there were no other seafood market," he said, "we'd be too busy to talk to you."
Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.