A visit to Smithfield market, my local butcher and why shop local
I have seen quite a few ads and articles for Shop Local campaigns. There seems to be a few different ones but the main aim is to support local, independent shops and by doing that, the local economy. I love high streets that have a diverse range of shops, not just the main stream brands. You can read more about one of the campaigns here.
I was talking to one of our neighbors the other day and the lady told me that there used to be two butchers in Hampton Hill. For a very long time this was a typical high street with fading, local shops, seeing the arrival of the supermarkets so when a butcher was opening I think we were all happy! The number of butchers has been on a low note for the last few years but there has been a revival, the horse meat scandal shows how important it is to know where your meat comes from and your butcher will most likely know, or be able to trace the meat back to the farm where it was reared. I didn’t go all the way to the farm but I wanted to go to Smithfield market and see a part of the meat chain we, the consumers, never really get to experience.
I wanted to know where they buy their meats, how do they select the suppliers, what does it entail to be a butcher? What brings someone to open a butcher shop in times when the number of butchers seems to be in decline? I haven’t been paid by Robson’s to write this, nor have they had any influence but Zack, our local butcher agreed to talk to me and take me to Smithfield market one morning.
I have never been to a meat market like this one and I was quite excited. We left at 4 am, apparently a bit of a lie in on my behalf (much appreciated). It was dark, windy and rainy and it was a very nice drive through the empty streets of London, talking about a world I don’t know much about, being a butcher. I knew he got up early but a day that starts at 3 AM and ends way after the shop is closed makes for a long day.
When I asked how he knows who is good and had the best meats at Smithfields I find out that he is the second generation butcher. He has learnt his skill by starting in the family shop early and then by experience. Like in all good business relationships you need trust, quality and consistency.
No matter what your skill is, when you start a business your biggest asset is you and it takes a lot of dedication. The day starts early and by the time the shop is closing the books are waiting to be done. It is important to support our local tradesmen, they bring life to the high street and the personal touch that no self check out ever can.
We arrived and I was given a white coat and a hard hat, I had rolled out of bed and din’t quite look my very best but this was taken at 4.22 am!
That was deceptive as the action is all going on behind the counters. The activities starts when you and me are tucked up in bed and goes on all night. I have to admit I did a yawn and got a smile and a nod from a butcher who looked like he had been up for hours and I felt slightly like a light weight.
There is meat everywhere, a true carnivores heaven!
There are hooks on rails throughout and they can be connected to the lorries.
The rails runs through and the meat can be railed to any destination inside of the building.
Zack discussed the meat with one of his main suppliers. He knew where to look and who to talk to and who is selling the best meats.
It was time for a cup of tea before finishing off and it was still early!
We were back at home by around 6 am. I have to admit I did have a short snooze before the working day began. It was such a great experience and I did learn a lot.
Zack didn’t go to bed but started his day in the shop and when I went to the shop later , they were busy preparing meat for the day and the weekend ahead, cutting the chickens and the chuck, trimming the lamb and beef, there is a never ending list of things to do.
It is easy to spend more than planned in their shop, they have an array of products, all tempting.
Some fab looking beef shortribs + bought and cooked some last weekend and they are so good!
Zack – the butcher
I also noticed what an impact the shop has had on the local community. There is a constant stream of customers but no matter how busy they are there is always time for a smile and quick chat with everyone, truly adding that personal touch and I can see how their customers light up and so many are leaving with a smile. It makes the day a bit better for everyone I believe. Shop local and support not only local businesses but the community.
If you would like to visit Robson’s butcher in Hampton Hill they can be found here
Robson’s Butcher and Deli
Shop nr 173, High Street