The neighborhood butcher shop where customers & crew come first
When you walk into Westside Meats at 1414 West Trade Street one of the first things you will notice is how clean the store is and the vast variety of meats available. Then you will notice how attentive the employees are when servicing a customer. This neighborhood butcher shop is a gem in the Historic West End that retail outlets, newcomers, and longtime customers continue to visit. The combination of quality product, quality presentation, and quality customer service has kept Westside Meat in business for over 50 years.
Loyalty, Loyalty, Loyalty
It is not uncommon to see a customer grab a hug from Westside Meats co-owner Rosa Coleman as they update her about their family and friends. A shared smile and conversation between customers and crew is an important part of the Westside Meats experience. “We appreciate all of our customers. We have generations of customers that have been here.” Coleman continued, “We have one lady who is about 85, with a daughter that is about 60, and her daughter is about 35. Now, I am seeing her kids grow up.” For Coleman watching generations of children grown into adulthood is exciting and allows her to feel very connected to her loyal generational customers. “It is just amazing. And you know they still buy from us! We sure appreciate it, too.” This lifelong personal touch customer service allows the crew to see customers as a part of the Westside Meats family.
A Small Business with High Standards
However, the welcoming atmosphere is not the only aspect of the Westside Meats experience. A clean workplace and quality meat is top priority for Coleman. “My husband was in the military, so we are in the habit of keeping the place spic-and-span.” Coleman says that they have inspectors coming in from Raleigh on a daily basis to ensure the store is keeping up with standards. “When they [the inspectors] tell us something, we have to do it. And, when I tell our crew something, they have to do it. Because in business you have to learn to take orders.” Westside Meats high cleanliness standards carryover into the high standards they have for their meat products. Coleman is not willing to sale meat that she is not willing to eat herself. “We like to keep it nice and lean. And FRESH!” Coleman takes great pride in providing fresh meat to customers. ”We grind fresh hamburger meat every other day. No additives.”
The Westside Meats Purchasing Experience
The quality of the meat and the attentive customer services that come along with shopping at this small business is seen as very valuable to some. However, for the price-conscious shopper, the question may remain, “How much is this quality meat going to cost me?” Coleman has created meat specials and provides customers with the opportunity to select the meat placed in their packages as a means to differentiate the experience from shopping for meat at a major grocery store chains.
They offer picnic specials and family specials. With the $59.99 picnic special, a cookout spread includes a box of chuck steaks, chicken, beef ribs, hamburgers, and hot dogs. Coleman says that the original price of a meat package like that would cost around $123. She has created these specials as a way to help her customers stretch their dollars while providing quality meat that they can select themselves. Coleman explained, “At Westside Meats, we have big tubs of meat. You don’t have to pick-up a pre-made package.” She continued, “You don’t have to pick-up a package of pork chops and then go home and be mad because they got two good ones on top and three rinky-dink ones on the bottom. Here you can choose how many ounces your meat should be cut, and you can select the pieces you want.”
When factoring in the quality of the meat provided plus the package customization capability, the price charged by this small business is seen as worth it to many. For other customers, the types of meat they need cannot be found so easily in the typical grocery store. “Because of all the various nationalities that come to the store, we have to carry all kinds of meats.” They now carry beef tripe, rabbit, goat, head meat, oxtails, and more. Since Westside Meat is a small business it is able to quickly pivot to the needs of its customers.
Sharing is Caring At Westside Meats
However, when the price is still out of reach for some longtime customers, Coleman is willing to gift meat packages to them. She does not see it as providing a line of credit, but often those customers will pay for the meat she gave to them once they have enough money to pay the store back. And this gifting of meat is not only extended to customers, Coleman also shares meat with her crew. ”With my crew, the only thing that I ask is that they do not take from me. If you want something, put it up on the counter and ask for it. And, I will say yes.” She explained, “When we close-up on Tuesday, if a crew member does not have anything to eat for Wednesday, then if you ask me for a couple of pounds of meat, I will say sure you can have it.” For Coleman, she would rather the crew ask for something instead of just taking it. It shows her that the crew cares about the business just as much as she cares about them.
The Westside Meats Family
Coleman has learned over the years just how important it is to find quality help in addition to quality meat. “With a lot of the crew I have now, they are people that asked me to give them a chance. And that is what I did.” She takes a moment to reflect, “A lot of them stayed and a lot of them didn’t. The majority of the crew that we have now feels like family.” The crew not only FEELS like family, several crew members actually are family. She works with her husband, daughter, son, and grandson. Her son and grandson are interested in taking over the business once Coleman and her husband decide to retire.
Coleman has worked with her husband for over 50 years in the meat business. “Being 70 years old, I have been in the meat business all my life. I have never done anything else except for being a beautician right next door to Westside for about 15 years.” Once Coleman started experiencing problems with her hands from the years of working as a beautician, she transitioned to working at Westside Meats to help her husband. “When I started working with my husband, we were together 24/7. We would get up in the morning and ride to work together and ride home together every day.” She paused for a moment, “I did not get much time to hang out with my girlfriends because we were trying to establish the business. The business came first.” She continued, “But, after a while, I started enjoying the meat business. I get to meet all kinds of people. Especially, now that Charlotte is growing so much, all kinds of nationalities come into the store. Everyone should be doing business with the way Charlotte is growing.”
Coleman is happy that business is still flowing but really wants to see more people from the neighborhood come into the store and become regular customers. She has more generations of Historic West End residents that she wants to get to know.
Shop Historic West End
To support this small business in the Historic West End be sure to stop by, say hello to Mrs. Coleman and purchase a Westside Meats package for your family (if you eat meat or fish).
Location: 1414 West Trade Street
8am-3pm: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
CLOSED: Wednesday & Sunday