A day in the life of a Butchers in Cambridge

The Butcher Diary.  It takes one and a half to two hours to “set up” the shop, which means putting your display in the window, putting out the fresh meat counter display, displaying the fresh bread, the cooked meat and the fruit and vegetable displays.

Our meat isn’t delivered vacuum packed ready to be put out on shelves as in the supermarkets. It has to be butchered from a side of beef, whole lambs and sides of pork and turned into all the delicious cuts ready for the customer.

This all has to be done before the majority of the customers come in. It’s not very good to have a shop full of customers if no meat has been prepared and put out on display. Neither would the customers appreciate the butcher doing all the preparing while they patiently have to wait for their order.

Sausages and burgers have to be made every other day and sometimes more often than that if demand requires it and this is a time consuming process. As I mentioned in one of the other posts, sausages come in different flavours and that applies to burgers as well.

Yet another important job that needs to be done before lunch time. At the end of trading, all products have to be put away again in separately chilled storage facilities. All equipment, all counters and displays have to be cleaned and sterilised ready for the next day. The floor has to be swept and aprons have to be taken home for washing. All this takes about another hour of the day.

Getting Back To The Opening Hours Dilemma.

If a butcher opened at lunch time, which is when it gets a bit busier in the shop and bearing in mind the two hours needed to set up the shop, staff would have to be there at 10am. Currently most butchers open at 7 am which allows some quiet time for most preparations before the majority of customers arrive.

By the time the shop is closed and all the clearing up and cleaning has been done, it’ll be almost 11pm. Anyone who can tell me where a small butcher shop can get and afford qualified staff to work from 10am to 11pm I’m all ears. Another problem is that it is especially difficult to get hold of any qualified unemployed butchers. Butchers seem to be an endangered species these days.

Now, I don’t want anyone to feel I am making excuses for butchers, nor do I want anyone to take any of this in any other way than it is intended, namely to inform people on how a small butcher shop operates and why it might be very difficult for them to open and close later than they are now.

Admittedly, there is always room for improvements and one way forward would be making home deliveries. Some butchers already do have a set day in the week they do deliver to their local area. Another way to deal with this problem could be to have one day in the week where the shop is open later.

Not many butchers in Cambridge do this currently however it might be something to trial and advertise to increase business. Butchers are very proud of their profession and do try to make it as easy as possible for their customers to have exactly what they want.

We want to supply quality produce because everyone should have the opportunity to have the best. However unless everyone gives a little of their time, the butchers and the customers, your local butcher shops will not exist in 10 years’ time, or maybe even sooner than that.

As the number of butcher shops decreases because of supermarket competition the prices of meat may well increase and we may all pay the cost for Convenience Shopping. We are grateful that our customers in Cambridge take their time to come to us and in return we will endeavour to continue to give excellent service, quality meat and value for money.

Butchers & Convenient Shopping

I read in an article the other day that people only go to the supermarket to buy their meat because the opening hours mean it is more convenient.

That is a very true and a real problem for independent butcher shops. It is difficult for small family businesses like ours, to open longer hours and at the weekend. Some of the reasons are staff, costs and the work/time involved in running a small butcher shop!

Someone suggested butcher shops should open at 12 noon and close at 10pm, or at least be open longer than to only 5pm.

Now, although that might seem like a good idea to a lot of people, which I totally understand since everyone is busier than ever nowadays however I thought I might explain why that might be almost impossible for some butcher shops, especially small, family run butchers like ours in Cambridge with only a few staff and limited resources.

First of all butcher shops are dependent on when their suppliers deliver and that is normally in the morning. We source our meat from what we think are the best farms and they are at the moment not local, so that means we only get one or two deliveries in the week. Butchering the cuts out takes time therefore you need your stock in early to allow for this.

In our next blog we run through our typical day in our butchers shop in Cambridge to further explain the difficulties of longer opening hours.

s and own cooked meats etc and isn’t that what we all want when we are cooking our “home-cooked” meals?