Saturdays in the butcher shop are quite social. When the front door opens, the jangle of the bells hanging from the handle announces “We have company” and honestly, I’m thankful every time.
More often than not, a fun conversation ensues. Our customers often share their cooking intentions, or describe how they prepared their last purchase. Tangential threads about meals and experiences abroad are also common. Regardless if the customer lives on Vashon or not, it’s rarely a story-less transaction, and I love it.
Through our doors walk our regulars; folks that have become happily hooked on the taste of real, raw milk; fans of fresh, pasture-raised pork, lamb and poultry; sausage lovers who pour over the selection of styles; organ meat connoisseurs who delight in taking home nutrient rich offal; bakers who love leaf lard; soup makers who appreciate our rich, gelatinous stock; nibblers of pate, rilletes, head cheese, and smoked sausage; and many, many fans of bacon.
Vashon “summer people”, weekenders and day-trippers also often incorporate a visit into their island sojourn, and it’s pleasing to know we have become part of their furlough. More often than not, they are already familiar with our products and farm from the Seattle Farmers Markets. While shopping at La Boucherie, they now see where the production for those markets takes place, and meet the butcher who prepares those offerings.
Occasionally we are visited by an Islander leading their out-of-town-guests, who announces as soon as they enter the shop that they are “…just showing friends what we have on Vashon.” Although I haven’t seen them in the shop or the restaurant before and they usually leave empty-handed, I’m heartened by these visits. It tells me that even if they are not (yet) a customer, on some level they appreciate our endeavor enough to consider it a point of interest on their Vashon tour. Indeed, I am eternally optimistic; on their next visit, I tell myself, they’ll try something out of the case.
With the exception of the tour guides, each of these folks makes a choice. Industrial meat and milk can be purchased in multiple locations on Vashon, and at a significantly lower price. Even cheaper meat and milk can be purchased at Costco, Trader Joes, etc. just a ferry ride away. Our customers have placed a value on the products we provide that is in equilibrium with what it costs to bring these products to market, sans middleman. They understand that food grown on Vashon, naturally and never frozen or pasteurized, is more nutritious; requires less fossil fuel; supports their local economy; and will taste better. Their presence in the butcher shop allows my presence. We are mutually dependent, and I’m thankful every time.