We are raising funds to re-open Old Towne Meats the way it was meant to be.
I have been a meat cutter for 23 years. I learned almost everything from my former employer who ran a small, but very successful, retail and wholesale meat market in Las Vegas. When he sold the business and retired I continued to work there running the place but I was just not happy there anymore. I found a new job working at a grocery store in the meat department but soon discovered that I did not agree with their practices and waste. I found that it was time to open my own business. I also wanted to move back to my home town.
After doing much research on the area of the Tri-Cities, Washington, we settled on a location in West Richland that appeared to be growing rapidly. So with the backing of my father-in-law, I moved my family to West Richland, where I grew up, and began the process of building Old Towne Meats.
As it turned out, it was a struggle from the start. Unforeseen circumstances added to the cost of building and delayed the opening, all of which reduced our working capital. My wife tried to find employment in her field of work to keep the house running but she had trouble finding a position that did not require her to be bilingual or she was overqualified for the position.
We opened, finally, with the bare minimum and were not able to add the wholesale portion of the business to our offerings. It was a slow start with no money for advertising and only flyers to get the word out. Customers did start to trickle in and finally word of mouth helped to start a great customer base. You can check out our facebook page which is still active. We have great customers who really enjoyed our natural meat selections and homemade and specialty sausages.
With increased customers, came increased costs. It became very difficult to keep up. My wife was finally able to get a job, in a completely different venue, in order to help out with our daily living expenses. We did everything in our power to cut our expenses. We sold our vehicles, cancelled cell phones, no internet or cable in the house and we lived off meat scraps for a very long time, rarely buying groceries for ourselves and only survived with the help of other family members.
Additionally, the strip mall where we leased, while empty at the time, could have, and should have had housed great little local shops that would help drive traffic to the area. While we were building, there were a number of people looking into the area to open their stores and restaurants. Unfortunately, most of the units were leased by a church, leaving only 2 at either end of the strip mall. With the church being built in the middle, the business owners lost interest in the area. With services only on Sunday, there was no additional traffic in the area. Bad luck for us.
Despite this, the second year started to look up. It was slow going because without the working capital it was difficult to meet demand, but we managed to build our customer base with knowledgeable, friendly service and quality product. At least until winter hit. It snowed that year. A lot. Our location, as it turns out, was not the greatest. Our landlord did very little to increase traffic flow, failing to fix the lights in the large pylon sign for most of our stay. His clean up crew for the snow did a poor job and it was difficult to get in and out of the shopping center. The street we were located on were not main thoroughfares so the snow was not plowed off the streets. We lost a substantial amount of customers through this time and could no longer sustain the business. We had no other option but to close. Spring was just barely starting when we decided to close our doors. Our customers were just starting to return but we were too far behind to remain open. Another business that had opened at the opposite end from us ended up closing their doors even before we did. It has been a year since we have been closed and only 1 business (a small gym) has leased a unit in that strip mall.
It is still my dream to own and operate a retail and wholesale meat market. With your help, we can re-build. We plan on opening within a more established location this time and open with the full compliment of wholesale offerings in addition to the retail market. Having the wholesale portion of the business has the potential of sustaining the business even if the retail portion gets slow due to economy or weather. Within the 2 years we were open, there were many interested restaurants that were just waiting for us to open the wholesale portion of the business. We also have loyal customers that we see during our daily routines, that can't wait for us to re-open.