HELENA — It hasn’t been easy for anyone, but Tizer Meats in Helena has found a way to trudge ahead during the pandemic.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate, our business hasn’t suffered due to COVID,” said Tizer co-owner Matthew Elvbakken.
Part of that can be attributed to a loyal customer base and online presence.
Another factor is jumping on opportunities that have happened because of COVID. Like buying hogs that bigger processors couldn’t use, because of shut-downs in other states.
“We were able to purchase some, freight it in here for $75 apiece and what our normal charge for slaughter and processing a hog, if you were to bring one into us is $230," said Elvbakken. "So, we just made it a round number and called it $300.”
That didn’t turn out exactly how Matt planned though.
“No good deed goes unpunished because the first load of pigs we got at $75," said Elvbakken. "The next ones went up to about $100. And the final load we got in was $165. So, we really couldn’t get our price raised and people had already made their deals, so that was one we’re hoping we’re going to see some return on investment in good will.”
From the looks of things, it has.
“We put out a good product, people had to wait for quite a while. It was clear until October, from may to October, before we got all those orders filled," said Elvbakken. "But we did just gangbusters business in-between time. It was hard to keep our retail shelves full, as well as keep up with all the custom processing of pork and beef and lamb, all together. I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to say that it was that people were trying to get local meat, as far as it goes, I think they were all trying to shop local. And I think they were trying to show hometown support.”
Right now, showing hometown support might be enough.
“It’s leveled off somewhat now, but were probably at least tenfold if not more compared to the walk-in traffic we had prior to May,” Elvbakken said.