Small Butcher Shops Can Still Compete With The Big Box Stores
I had a coworker years ago named Tim that used to go on and on about how big grocery chains trick you into thinking they're the cheapest place to shop, but then give you the old banana in the tailpipe anywhere they could.
The example he always gave was cereal. Walmart always offers up the best prices on cereal. It's true to this day. If you compare their cereal prices to other grocery stores, they can't be beaten... but to make up the profit margin dividend, they'll be a little higher on the other items the average shopper might bundle in that category.
As grocery prices have skyrocketed over the last couple of months, people are often going without or choosing cheaper versions of their usual pantry staples. Beef is one of those items.
It was only a month ago that I caught wind of ranchers worrying about what will happen to the beef market. A one-two double-punch of the drought killing off grazing lands and doubled & tripled prices of hay and feed still had some ranchers predicting beef could eventually rise to $50 per pound, but then the rains came... although they didn't solve the current issues more than just offered a temporary break from the out-of-pocket monotony the ag industry has experienced all year.
As such, beef prices have soared. My normal weekly treat of wagyu strip steak went from $12 to $18 overnight. I even saw chuck-eyes priced at nearly $13 per pound... They were $4 per pound two years ago. But at least one Southwest Oklahoma meat market is beating back at the big box stores, offering better quality local beef at the same or similar price points.
There's a little meat market in Elgin that has carved out a solid reputation for selling their own beef. They raise it, slaughter it, and sell it. I'm guessing that independent streak is how they're able to offer prime cuts of beef for better or similar prices than the big box stores.
Take their weekly special for example...
If you do the quick math on that, 22 lbs of 85/15 ground beef for $100 is right at $4.55 per pound... plus you get the free hat or t-shirt with your purchase, but we're talking meat here.
If you shop around this price to Walmart, universally the cheapest option for beef in Lawton, that same 85/15 ground beef price varies between what you get.
The fresh tray is $5.07 per pound. The frozen packaged stuff is $3.98. So what's the difference and why would anyone pay 57¢ more? Allow me to elaborate through my own example.
I've been buying the one-pound packages of Walmart's 85/15 ground beef now for a few months. I grew up rural and know what drought does to beef prices, so I've been getting three pounds per grocery order when I need food... saving it away in a weird taco/chili prepper sort of mentality... but Walmart caps you at three pounds per order.
Ain't nobody got time for that.
So when I saw the weekly deal for 22 lbs for a similar price, I jumped. Literally. I saw it, left for Elgin, and returned to work 23 minutes later with 22 pounds of ground beef.
I prefer to buy in bulk when I get the chance, so why not buy meat the same way? The way I figure is, it's local beef raised in our collective backyard, plus if their cows produce prime graded steak, why wouldn't the ground beef be just as premium? That's worth 57¢ right? It was for me.
In all fairness, I don't want to slight Walmart's 85/15 ground beef that I've been buying. It's processed by Cargill - one of America's premier beef processors - with Kansas beef... but you could logically surmise that it's not the same quality as what is available locally. Plus, when was the last time Walmart gave you a hat for buying groceries?
If you're like me and want in on the deal, hop on it as soon as you can. I looked for prime NY strips while I was there, selling for only $11.99/lb, but they were sold out. This is bound to sell out too.
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