“Honestly, I’d been looking for a couple of years at different places and areas. Dad and I had been praying about it, I drove by it, and it was empty…It’s just a good location,” said Jeremy Toulouse.
In talking with community members, he said, they wanted something closer to Hamilton.
“A lot of people coming in said they haven’t had a meat shop in the area for so long, and they’re happy we’re here,” Jeremy Toulouse said. “People are happy that we’re here in this location. They are happy with the prices, and the quality that they’ve been getting. At least that’s what we’re already hearing from repeat customers.”
Special T Meats carries USDA Choice or higher quality products with its selection of fresh meat, including beef, steaks, roasts, ground chuck, pork, pork chops, bone-in and boneless pork roast, pork butts and ribs.
Additionally, Special T Meats makes its own fresh pork sausage with several different varieties available as well as fresh chicken and marinated chicken breasts.
Special T Meats also offers several different combination freezer packages, starting at $61 for the “Breakfast Pack,” for example, which includes two pounds each of sliced to order bacon, breakfast link sausage, country-breakfast sausage, fresh bratwurst and smoked pork chops.
The 22,000-sq.-ft. shop has two, large smoke houses inside, specializing in a line-up of smoked meats. The open setup in the shop allows customers to see the processes, such as sausage being made, or when the staff is slicing meat to make beef jerky.
“Our specialty here is smoked meats. When I say that, I mean we make our own bacon, and our own smoked chops. We do a different variety of pepperoni, pepperoni sticks and beef jerkies, smoked chicken salad and ham salad as well as smoked chicken parts like drumsticks and wings. We smoke cheese, too,” said Jeremy Toulouse.
He said the community has shown overwhelming support for the new business. Popular sellers include Special T Meats signature Smoked Chicken Salad, “which has taken off like fire” as well as smoked ribs and smoked hot wings.
The shop makes samples available for customers to try. The quality and level of service are other aspects that set Special T Meats apart.
“Customer service is the main thing. That’s something that’s been lacking over the years. I’ve noticed that all the bigger stores are trying to get back into customer service, but that’s the biggest thing,” said Chuck Toulouse. “That’s what I was raised on is customer service and the other thing I was raised on is cleanliness.”
Jeremy Toulouse added, “We emphasize service, and without our customers, we don’t have a business. You have to take care of them. I believe with all my heart that you’re getting your money’s worth here.”
Chuck has more than 40 years of experience in the business. He began his career as an apprentice meat cutter in 1973 at IGA. Demonstrating hard work and a strong interest, he learned the skilled trade of being a butcher. Jeremey has almost 30 years of experience and he got involved in the business early on as a young teen. Now, Chuck is teaching Jeremy how to successfully run a business – from the day-to-day operations to displaying and stocking the products. He said Jeremy is a “fast learner.”
“Growing up, my dad had a slaughter business, and my grandparents, who are my dad’s parents had a grocery store. So, I worked at both places, growing up. I was 13 when I started there,” Jeremy Toulouse said.
Jeremy said he’s had to find out what the customers like and learn the different products that are popular here. Chuck brings expertise at what he does, and he really likes to show off the products for customers.
“The customers are what I really enjoy. I love working with people, where my dad likes to be in the back, cutting and putting the products out,” said Jeremy Toulouse. “I see a lot of people I know, and it’s about making them happy. That’s what I want to do.”
Chuck owns a second butcher shop, Double T Meats, in Eatonville, Wash., where the family is originally from. He flies back and forth, working at both shops. Jeremy, his wife Christi, and their three children Emma, Grace and Charlie live in Fairfield. All three of the couple’s children help out with various aspects of the business. Chuck and his wife, Ann, have owned and operated Double T Meats in Eatonville since 2006.
“Emma’s husband, Justin, and my in-laws, Dave and Linda Nelson, they have all helped us get this business up and running. They came in and helped us paint. A lot of the work inside we did ourselves,” said Jeremy Toulouse. “They’ve also helped us hand out flyers and things like that.”
Special T Meats has promoted the business primarily by word of mouth. The business is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and is closed on Sundays.