Every small business depends on a community. It nurtures the business, supports it financially and even helps to spread the word far and wide. The support received by The Gibsons Butcher, an artisanal meat shop operated by husband and wife team Adam and Shannon Vanderwoerd, hasn’t just made them a successful local business, it propelled them to award winning status when they clinched the 2018 Premier’s People’s Choice award at the Small Business BC Awards gala.
Becoming Their Own Boss
Possessing a deep knowledge and appreciation for fine meats, Adam worked in the meat department at a grocery store for 24 years. During this time, Shannon fulfilled the role of district manager for Starbucks. While the two were enjoying success in their chosen path, they both felt they could do better…
“Between the two of us, we had so much experience we knew we could make a successful business,” Shannon explained.
“We finally made the leap because there was a growing demand from consumers to have full transparency where their meat came from. Adam wanted the ability to provide the highest quality of meat to his customer instead of managing his product into a weekly corporate flyer.
“I’m not sure we ever dreamed of becoming entrepreneurs. Adam was very unhappy at his previous job and it was really taking a toll on him. We knew he had the skill and a following. The town was ready for an independent butcher shop and with my experience as a business coach it was the perfect storm for us.”
Building and Supporting a Community
In little over two years of business The Gibsons Butcher has created a remarkable community around itself. The store is designed to be welcoming and homely, acting as a community hub where customers can meet to share tips and recipes. This sense of community extends to their day-to-day operation, supporting local farmers and buying BC products whenever possible.
“Our vision with The Gibsons Butcher was to create a neighbourhood butcher shop where people would want to visit and stay,” says Shannon.
“We want to help customers with their dinner and entertaining plans, while becoming a part of their lives and routine. Alongside this, we are proud to support our local farmers and completed the necessary steps so we could buy and sell their meat. We live in a rural area that has many farmers raising animals for themselves and their families. As there isn’t a processing plant or abattoir, these farmers are not able to sell to local stores.
“Adam and I would drive less than a kilometer and pass cows, pigs, goats and we couldn’t understand why we had to leave the coast to buy free range quality meat. This prompted us to act; We connected with our local health inspector and worked with him to facilitate a Safe Slaughter & Butchering workshop, certifying the local farmers.
“We are now able to buy their meat and sell it to our customers. You can’t get more local than that! We love that we can support these farmers while providing the highest quality meat to our customers. It’s why we started The Butcher.”
The Gibsons Butcher has quickly become an institution in the town it calls home. The main store in Upper Gibsons is open seven days a week, while Adam and Shannon also operate a satellite location, the Butcher Express, at Gibsons Public Market. But what’s next for this dynamic duo? Well, they might be coming to a town near you soon…
“We are constantly asked by visitors to the Sunshine Coast to open a store in their home town,” Shannon revealed.
“Our long-term goal would be to franchise The Butcher and wholesale our signature products such as our homemade terrines, jerky’s and pepperonis.”
In front of a packed audience of 500 fellow entrepreneurs, government officials and business movers and shakers, The Gibsons Butcher was awarded the 2018 Premier’s People’s Choice Award at the Small Business BC Awards. Eleven months later, what impact has winning the award had on their business?
“Winning the Small Business BC Award gave us exposure,” Shannon explained.
“We were less than a year old and we were nominated by a customer and the community rallied behind us. Suddenly, we were on the front page of all the local newspapers and people wanted to be a part of it.
“It drew in customers and once they experienced our product and store environment they were hooked.”