AFTER serving the Limestone Coast for more than four decades, Mount Gambier butcher Trevor Stephens has hung up his apron and entered retirement.
Mr Stephens started his butcher apprenticeship 47 years ago when there was a staggering 13 butchers on Commercial Street alone, but said the industry had changed drastically since that time.
“I started at Swallow Drive 43 years ago,” he said.
“Then I purchased the business 22 years ago, so it has been a long time in the industry and a long time here (Swallow Drive), but I have loved it.
“I love talking to people and being part of the community and that is what a butcher is.”
Mr Stephens believes the rise of supermarkets as “one-stop shops” had led to the disappearance of standalone butchers around the community, but he said Swallow Drive Butchers had managed to defy the odds.
Although the business is still thriving, Mr Stephens said it was not without the help of the community and the IGA next door.
“We originally were two doors down from the supermarket in the same complex,” he said.
“But we moved into the shop next to it and cut a hole in the wall which has been a godsend.
“People have really geared towards buying all of their groceries in one place and forgotten about the quality meat a butcher offers.
“Being connected to the IGA has encouraged people to still buy their meat from us and that has kept us going.”
When he first started in the industry, butchers were just “beef and pork”, but over the years the range has grown to include chicken all year, instead of only during peak periods.
“We only ever had chicken at Easter and Christmas,” he said.
“It just became a hugely popular meat and customers wanted it all year so the industry had to change to suit the demand.
“We have also moved into different marinades and more creative ways of seasoning meats for the customers.
“People used to do all of that at home but now we do it, which has definitely kept us on our toes but it has been great to grow with our customers.”
Throughout his career, Mr Stephens said there was not any one thing that stood out, but the people he met along the way would always be his favourite aspect of the job.
“I have met some great customers over the years that have become good friends,” he said.
“During my time at Swallow Drive I have been lucky enough to serve three generations of families.
“You really get to know them and it is amazing seeing the kids grow up over the years and start their own families – I feel very lucky.”
Looking to the future, Mr Stephens and his wife will head off on the trip of a lifetime to Canada before settling into retired life in the Blue Lake city.
“It will be great to have some time off to ourselves,” he said.
“It is tough to allow yourself a holiday when you own a business, so it will be nice to have the pressure off.
“I do not think I will be able to stay away for very long though, my son is coming back to the shop after working at James Street and I know I will be in and out of the shop working whenever they need me.
“I am just glad the business will keep going after all of these years.”