Published in Small Business
Retail sales and online orders have kept The Meat Block busy in Fruitport Township. Retail sales and online orders have kept The Meat Block busy in Fruitport Township. MIBIZ PHOTO: MARLA MILLER

Meat Block’s retail store keeps up with demand despite volatile market

BY Sunday, May 10, 2020 06:23pm

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP — The Meat Block Inc.’s restaurant accounts have taken a big hit due to COVID-19, but the Muskegon-area retail store and online orders have kept the Anderson family busy.   

The retail store at 2330 E. Broadway Ave. in Fruitport Township has remained open as an essential business, but policies and procedures continue to change under the governor’s executive orders.

A lakeshore meat wholesaler and butcher since 1909, The Meat Block in recent weeks has struggled to keep up with demand because of meat processing plants closing across the country.

“I think there are going to be shortages and high pricing for a while,” said Harvey Anderson, who co-owns the business with his son, Matt Anderson. “It’s everything right now — beef, pork and chicken.”

Anderson answered the phone and said he only had a few minutes to spare because “we’re completely swamped.” The Meat Block did get a loan for employees through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, and Anderson said the company has tried to keep everyone working.

“We lost a lot of our wholesale accounts, but we have the retail outlet here that is keeping us busy,” he said. “We service hospitals with the wholesale (operations), so we really can’t close our doors.”

Anderson has been in the business for 52 years, and said he has never experienced anything like the COVID-19 crisis, noting The Meat Block is complying with all of the current safety guidelines. 

Only six customers are allowed in the store at one time, the restrooms are closed to the public, hand sanitizer is stationed inside the door, and customers must wear masks while in the store.

The Andersons adjusted the store’s hours, including opening a half hour early for vulnerable populations, adding protective plexiglass at the registers, and continuing to post updates via social media. Due to rapidly changing inventory, curbside pickup and online ordering may not be available.

Initially, customers could call ahead for curbside pickup and order from a special curbside menu. The Meat Block also has an online store, and employees continue to update the available inventory. 

On April 2, Matt Anderson made a Facebook post thanking customers and listing the restaurants that continue to order from The Meat Block.

“My vendors have been instrumental in keeping our freezers and coolers stocked with fresh inventory and for that I am appreciative,” he wrote. “I am especially thankful for my employees and staff that have been working extremely hard to keep up with the current changes. It has been challenging, but they have been loyal, flexible and diligent.”

Using the tagline “the cuts you dine out for,” The Meat Block is a fifth-generation family-owned operation that specializes in quality meats for commercial accounts, restaurants and retail customers. Hamburger, chicken and pork chops are its staple meats, but the store also sells a variety of steaks, lake perch, shrimp and Michigan-made spices and grocery items. Meat products are USDA Choice grade or better, properly aged, vacuum-sealed, ensuring freshness for months, and available fresh or frozen.

In the late 1980s, Matt Anderson joined his father and uncle in carrying on a family business started by his great-great grandfather, John Anderson. The first location on Hackley Avenue opened in 1909 as Anderson Packing. It was renamed Superior Meat Co. and became The Meat Block in 1978.

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