Preparing to open a new shop when most of the retail sector was being forced to shut down due to a pandemic does not sound like the most viable business plan.
That was the challenge faced by Manx Local Butchers in Pulrose when they opened in June. Entrepreneur and business owner Craig Carroll, who recently moved to the Island from Glasgow, had the idea to launch a business focused on offering the best quality Manx produce, and speciality Scottish and Northern Irish delicacies that weren’t available here on the Island. It turned out to be perfect timing because during the lockdown there was a significant increase in the number of consumers discovering the advantages of shopping local – figures from Isle of Man Meats showed that local meat sales were up 42% in April when compared to the same month last year.
In just a few weeks the shop – which is where Pulrose Post Office used to be in Alder Road – has become popular with shoppers seeking the top quality Manx meat. In addition to selling locally produced beef, lamb and pork, Manx Local Butchers also stock a range of fresh vegetables, eggs, milk and cheese from local producers. There’s also a ‘Manx Tartan’ range which includes traditional Scottish delicacies such as haggis, lorne/square sausage (made with Manx meat and imported herbs and spices from central Scotland to make it the most authentic lorne/square sausage on the Island) plus freshly made Glasgow morning rolls, Fords of Edinburgh tattie scones and Aberdeenshire black pudding.
Craig said: “Manx Local Butchers is the only new food service business on the Island to be launched during the pandemic. The local community have been really supportive from day one and we’re really grateful for the fantastic response from customers, especially the many positive comments we’ve received from people visiting the shop and on social media. Our motto is ‘Local Means Better’, so we’re committed to providing the highest quality, locally sourced products.”
The shop is managed by Master Butcher Dylan Williamson who has more than 20 years in the trade including working at Radcliffe Butchers in Castletown and Kermeen’s in Port Erin. He is also helping to ensure that his skills are passed on to the next generation by holding weekly ‘craft butchery’ demonstrations in the open plan premises where customers can see exactly how the various sides of meat are broken down, and observe exactly what goes into the homemade sausages and burgers.
Dylan is becoming famous for his homemade speciality sausages such as Welsh dragon; pork apple and smokey bacon; pork and black pudding; plus traditional pork and traditional steak sausages. Two new flavours are promoted every week. Combined with other specialities such as steak and chilli, and lamb and mint burgers, Craig says Manx Local Butchers offers a unique gastronomic twist with contemporary butcher shop delights. The business has also taken on an Apprentice Butcher, 17-year-old Robert Fair, whose family has a long history in the trade. He is the first new apprentice to enter the butchery trade on the Island in a decade.
Manx Local Butchers is the latest retailer to back Isle of Man Meats’ #MakeSureItsManx campaign which is now supported by a growing number of butcher’s shops, convenience stores and supermarkets across the Island. Clear labelling of Isle of Man Meats and other Manx produce helps Manx Local Butchers’ customers to think and shop local.
Phil Parsons, Plant Director at Isle of Man Meats, said: “Congratulations to everyone at Manx Local Butchers, it’s great to see so many people supporting the new shop and, importantly, purchasing Manx produce which supports the local economy. We know that every £1 spent on Manx produce in the Isle of Man is actually worth £1.83 to the economy, and there’s never been a more important time to buy local.”
At a time when retail has suffered more than most other sectors of the economy, Manx Local Butchers provides some welcome good news and hope for the future.