Bashaw Meats set to re-open

Bashaw Meats and Sausage should reopen for business by the July 1 long weekend — ideal timing, given the popularity of the shop’s products among the visitors who flock to nearby Buffalo Lake and Red Deer Lake every summer.

Bashaw Meats and Sausage should reopen for business by the July 1 long weekend — ideal timing, given the popularity of the shop’s products among the visitors who flock to nearby Buffalo Lake and Red Deer Lake every summer.

But Carrie Pearson, who owns the business with her husband Darren, said it’s the year-round residents who deserve the credit for Bashaw Meats’ return. They’ve been unwavering in their support since the meat processor and retailer was forced to close in December 2011.

“If we wouldn’t have had that, we probably wouldn’t have returned to the industry,” said Carrie. “That was a key thing.”

The Pearsons were unsure of their future after a health inspector ordered Bashaw Meats to cease operations. He cited a number of problems, some related to the fact that their building was nearly a century old and required substantial — and costly — renovations.

Members of the community rallied behind the couple, including Mel Hay, who owns Bashaw Concrete. Hay arranged to buy a vacant downtown lot where another old building had stood before being destroyed by fire last May, and he’s now constructing a new building for Bashaw Meats on the site.

The Pearsons will lease the building, which is being built specifically for their use. At 4,000 square feet, it will be double the size of Bashaw Meats’ former premises, said Carrie.

That will give them more space for processing and for their retail operations, she said.

New products will likely be added, but customers will also find the same items Bashaw Meats sold previously.

“Guaranteed that they can get their old favourites,” said Carrie.

Hay said it was important to preserve one of Bashaw’s long-standing businesses.

“Anytime you lose a small business that’s very important to the community, you’ve lost a lot of identity.”

With the building already enclosed, Hay is optimistic Bashaw Meats will reopen before July 1.

“A little sooner would be better,” acknowledged Carrie, who praises Hay for his support.

“Mel made the opportunity for us to do it.”

Darren did some trucking work after their business closed, she said, but they decided to give the meat shop another go.

“Ultimately, that’s what we wanted to do.”

The reaction from members of the community has been overwhelming, said Carrie.

“They were so excited and happy to hear that we’re reopening, and couldn’t wait to get some of their old favourites again.”

The Pearsons bought Bashaw Meats in 2003. In addition to serving the needs of local residents, it’s attracted customers from Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton — including many people who camp and pursue other recreational opportunities in the area.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com