I believe that the most frequently asked question I get at the farmers market is, “where is your retail storefront?” It’s hard to answer because most people don’t want the long version of the story here, they just want to know where to find us and, well, the answer is that we don’t have a retail storefront and aren’t currently working towards opening one. This can be confusing for some curious customers to understand, and so I wanted to lay out the reasoning behind this decision and shed a little more light on the way we’re currently structured.
When I first started Bavette, my health was relatively unpredictable and I had to structure the company in a way that wouldn’t decimate my life, as so many food businesses do for those who start them. The food industry is infamous for insanely long hours, tedious physical work, and epic burnouts. I have been victim to all three of those things before and didn’t fare well; my health took a toll for that, and continues to take it. Naturally then, it was important to me to structure Bavette in a way that was manageable for my life. From the outset, that took a retail storefront off the table- at least for the foreseeable future- because storefronts demand constant attention. You must be there for a certain number of hours each day and that felt unsustainable for the long term, for me, at the time, and continues to feel unsustainable for me right now.
The more I thought about the whole storefront thing as related to my health, the more I realized that there were other benefits, both to the business and the consumer, of staying away from retail at the start of things. For the consumer, I believe that we are able to charge a little less than we might otherwise because of our relatively low overhead and generally nimble structure. For the business, we are saved the chore of constantly filling a retail case with extremely perishable product. Much, much less goes to waste at Bavette because everything is cut as fresh as possible and packaged immediately.
Finally, this is the most efficient way that I can think of to run a meat business. When meat comes in, we are able to batch work and get it all cut and packaged for customers without constant interruptions. Then, when we see you at the farmers market or at one of our pickups, we can give you our full attention. Of course, this isn’t to say that I don’t dream of having a storefront someday. Creating a sense of community among food producers and consumers is central to the mission of the company and I would love to have a store that serves as the hub of that community. But, not yet.
I hope that explains a little more why we operate the way we do. I’d be curious to hear what you think or would prefer, so feel free to leave feedback in the comments section below!