Gull Lake butcher closes shop

For nearly two decades, Tend-rr Meats & Sausages Ltd. has been a stopping place for Hwy 12 travellers going to and from Gull Lake.

For nearly two decades, Tend-rr Meats & Sausages Ltd. has been a stopping place for Hwy 12 travellers going to and from Gull Lake.

Those seasonal meat buyers will be disappointed when they return this summer.

The pork and beef processing facility and retail shop closed its doors late last year, and owner Ralph Bell has no plans to resume operations elsewhere.

His longtime shop fell victim to the pending realignment of Hwy 12, with the province requiring a big chunk of his roadside property for the project. Although the Tend-rr Meats & Sausages shop would have been spared, the adjacent land where Bell’s house sits was needed — necessitating a move to a new house and thereafter long drives to and from the business.

“Plus, they were not going to give us an access off the highway,” he added, explaining that this would have reduced the appeal of the shop to passing motorists.

Ultimately, Bell negotiated for the province to buy all of his land. He’s currently building a new home for his family in Lacombe.

Bell and his wife first moved to their Hwy 12 location in 1990. They decided a meat shop would be a good business for the busy location, and soon after Bell completed the meat processing program at Olds College.

He initially operated the shop with Randy Svederus, but after five years bought out his partner.

Although it built up a loyal local customer base, much of Tend-rr Meats & Sausages’ trade was with Gull Lake users.

“The majority of it was lake traffic in the summertime,” said Bell.

“A lot of people from Calgary.”

The province’s plans for highway realignment have been known since 2004, but the timelines were uncertain until recently — which made it tough for Bell to plan or make improvements to his home and business.

The final days of Tend-rr Meats & Sausages were tough, acknowledged Bell, who also operated a mobile on-farm slaughter facility.

“Some people were in tears when they came in the last time.”

Not only is the option of rebuilding the business elsewhere too costly, Bell said he’s ready to leave the meat industry.

“I’ll try some other avenue.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com