S hawn Beresford believes that a focus on healthy eating drives customers to his new meat market in Maple Valley — despite the floundering economy.
“People are willing to spend extra cents to eat something good,” Beresford said this morning from Shawn’s Quality Meats and Smokehouse, which he and his wife, Kale, opened Oct. 1 near Gloria’s Restaurant along state Route 169.
Beresford and a partner have operated Shawn and Ted’s Quality Meats in Renton Highlands since 2004. Community growth and demographics drew Beresford to Maple Valley for his second shop.
All of Beresford’s beef is the Wheeler County, Ore.-based Painted Hills brand, which uses no antibiotics, hormones or steroids. The cattle are pasture raised and grain fed. The store’s chicken and pork also contain none of these additives.
You’ll never buy store-bought hamburger again.
These “extra steps” pay off with both healthier and better-tasting meat, Beresford says. To prove it, the shop sometimes gives away a pound of hamburger for customers to sample.
“All it takes is just to try it once, and you’ll be back,” he says. “You’ll never buy store-bought hamburger again.”
Beresford’s offerings cost more than meat found in local supermarkets, yet the store has exceeded projected profits in the few months it’s been open, and they are seeing the same customers returning.
“We’re beginning to know them by name, which takes a lot of time.”
Beresford, whose grandfather worked as a meat cutter in Iowa, started in the butchering business at age 15 as a “clean-up kid” for Don’s Quality Meats in Kent, where Beresford still lives. The shop owner, Don Wilson, would take Beresford to Wilson’s family’s farms in Enumclaw to see how cattle were raised.
“He just made you try to understand the industry as a whole package, not just as one job and that’s all you do,” Beresford says.
This was before the use of hormones and other additives became standard practice to produce bigger cattle faster to boost profits. Painted Hills chooses to wait for cattle to mature naturally and gives them space to roam a bit. Beresford believes that stress-free environment relaxes the animals, resulting in meat that is more tender.
Though the Oregon-bred beef is somewhat local, Beresford’s Smart Chicken brand of free-range chicken comes all the way from Nebraska because the company chills the meat using air rather than a water bath. “The water pulls the flavor out of the meat,” he says.
The shop houses a smoker that allows Beresford to make products on site such as pepperoni, jerky, ham, sausage, bacon, smoked salmon and turkey and chicken breasts for lunchmeat. All the smoking for the Renton and Maple Valley markets is done at the Maple Valley shop.
The shop also offers a variety of local products, such as cheeses, honey, grilling spices and barbecue sauces.
Local meat markets seemed to be dying off but appear to be making a comeback for a couple reasons, Beresford says.
For one thing, people are growing concerned about how animals are raised in factory farms.
“My oldest daughter is 26, and that generation is asking all the right questions,” he says. “People in their 70s and 80s, they’re asking the questions, too: How come beef doesn’t taste the same as it used to?”
And finally, people are willing to pay more per pound of meat because they are eating less of it overall.
“We sell a lot of small portions,” he says. “Meat is not bad for you, but you have to eat it moderately. You don’t need it everyday.”