3 Reasons to Love Your Local Butcher


10 May 3 Reasons to Love Your Local Butcher

My local butcher shop isn’t quite as picturesque as the one shown above. Even without cuts hanging in the windows or the latest specials written on the glass, I get an old-world feeling whenever I pop in. It’s like I’ve walked into a scene from a BBC series set in small town Yorkshire, only the prices are in dollars and I can understand everything they say.

Without  uncooperative shopping carts, long line ups and muzak nattering away in the background, I don’t really feel like I’m grocery shopping. It’s more like a friendly visit where money and meat exchange hands.

While there’s nothing wrong with supermarkets (except uncooperative shopping carts, long line ups and muzak), I find I’m spending more  and more of my grocery dollars at independent shops these days. At first I though it was about eating locally, but it’s actually about community. After all, any chain store with a decent butcher can:

  • tell you know where your meat comes from
  • steer you towards the best (and not necessarily the most expensive) cut of meat
  • bring in special orders
  • custom cut / grind your meat

All you have to do is ask.

So why go the the little guy? You likely won’t fully appreciate your independent butcher (or green grocer or cheese monger) until you:

  1. Discover your wallet is in your gym bag on the mudroom floor and they insist on ringing in your purchase, trusting you to pay later.
  2. Rush in 2 minutes before closing. Instead of giving you the bum’s rush, they tell you to relax and let you know the next time you’re running late to call ahead, place your order and they’ll have it ready and waiting.
  3. Take them at their word, call to say you’re running late and half way through placing the phone order realize you’ve left your wallet — yet again — in your gym bag on the mudroom floor. Instead of cancelling the order, they insist you come get your groceries. After all, you’ve proven you can be trusted to pay later. (See point #1.)

What chain store can do that?

Got an independent grocer / butcher / baker / candlestick maker / barista who’ll do this kind of neighbourly service for you? Tell me about it. Give them a virtual pat on the back (and a link if you can).  I love good news stories.

Photo © DavidMartinHunt. Published under a Creative Commons License.

  • Jill Silverman Hough
    Posted at 12:55h, 11 May Reply

    Amen to all THAT, Charmian! Not exactly the same, but in the same ballpark, I’ve noticed similar niceties just living in a small town. Here in Napa, when I take my car in for service to the dealership, they know my name, and more than once they’ve told me NOT to get something fixed there, but referred me to someplace that’d be easier/cheaper. That NEVER happened in San Francisco!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:07h, 16 May Reply

      I think when you deal with smaller shops of any kind you have a better chance at forming relationships where service is better. Your mechanic is a great example of this. Even though they sent you somewhere else, you’ll be back because of trust and excellent service. Works for everything, not just food. Thanks for pointing this out.

  • Sally - My Custard Pie
    Posted at 00:40h, 12 May Reply

    Local specialist shops are a bit thin on the ground here in Dubai although the supermarket counters are super helpful. I escape the heat for the UK in July and August and make a beeline for places like the Fine Cheese Company in Bath where you can stand and taste the cheeses for as long as you like and their advice is fantastic.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:11h, 16 May Reply

      Oooh, cheese shops are another great specialty place. We have a couple in town and I just love tasting the cheeses. I love how the owners are so into the cheese themselves. You can tell they get great joy from sharing the samples. At the big supermarkets I often get the feeling the person behind the counter has never tasted what they’re selling — or if they have, they just don’t think it’s that great.

      Happy cheese shopping this summer.

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