For a business that only opened its doors a little over a year ago, The Gibsons Butcher is thriving impressively, with a loyal following of customers who visit the shop and who also voted them to semi-finalist status for not one but two of this year’s Small Business BC (SBBC) Awards. The Butcher is a semi-finalist for both Best Employer and Premier’s People’s Choice awards, to be given out in February.
The artisan meat shop is a family business operated by Adam and Shannon Vanderwoerd, who opened it in October 2016. Born and raised on the Sunshine Coast, Adam worked in the meat department at SuperValu for 24 years, and had been considering starting his own business for some time when the fates aligned and he was able to open up in the building that used to be the Blackfish liquor store.
Adam has a deep knowledge of and passion for high quality meats, and his wife Shannon contributes marketing smarts she gained during 15 years as a territory manager for Starbucks. They make a star team.
The couple designed their shop to be “welcoming and homey”, not like a regular grocery store. It also acts as a community hub where customers meet and help other customers by sharing tips and recipes.
“We buy mostly BC products – maybe 90 per cent,” says Adam. Their suppliers, which include Black Apron Beef, Ovation Lamb, Johnston’s BC Farms, and Maple Hill Farms, follow sustainable farming practices and raise their animals without hormones or antibiotics, resulting in higher quality products for consumers.
Adam makes his own sausages and smokes meats, including beef jerky, bacon, ribs, brisket and deli meats. And the Vanderwoerds also stock other items such as sauces and condiments to complement the meats.
“We want unique products. And if it’s not good, we don’t sell it,” says Shannon. The couple are constantly looking for new ideas, attending trade shows and taking road trips around the province to find products.
The main store in Upper Gibsons is open seven days a week. They also operate a satellite location, the Butcher Express, at Gibsons Public Market.
Adam and Shannon are grateful to all the supporters who voted online to get them into the semi-finals of the SBBC awards. The final award selection will be made by a panel, to whom the top five semi-finalists will do an in-person pitch. Awards are given out at the annual gala in Vancouver on Feb. 23.
A second Gibsons business also reached the semi-finals this year. SOMA Small Business Solutions, owned and operated by Dianne Mueller, an accounting consultant, is a semi-finalist for Best Company.
Mueller describes bookkeeping as “the glue that connects entrepreneurs to their growth strategies.”