Variety is the spice for Quin's butchers

By Jessica Whyte
November 27 2021 - 12:00am
Andrew Quin showing some of the scotch fillets available at Quin's Gourmet Butchers, Northam.

QUALITY products, competitive pricing and superior service is the motto at Quin's Gourmet Butchers, at Northam Boulevard Shopping Centre.

The Quin family has been involved in the meat industry for 20 years and has been operating in Northam for 15 years.

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Andrew Quin completed a four-year butchery apprenticeship in 1985 with well-known country butchers Roediger Bros, learning his skills the traditional way.

Mr Quin went on to work in various other businesses as a butcher and manager, before eventually opening his first shop in Jurien Bay, where he was based for five years, before moving to Northam and buying the butcher shop in the old Roediger Brothers premises.

Initially, the butcher shop was across the road from the main shopping centre, but later it was decided to move to the Northam Boulevard Shopping Centre where it has been for nine years.

The new location made the business more viable as there was a greater volume of foot traffic and a wider customer base.

"I have lived in five different towns and this is the longest I have been in one spot," Mr Quin said.

Mr Quin runs the store alongside his staff members including Megan Ashman, Dylan Drew and two apprentices Cooper Stevens and William Blinman.

When sourcing their meat they strive to supply local produce, with pork from Linley Valley Pork and lamb from V&V Walsh and Amelia Park, Bunbury.

While their beef products were originally from Avon Valley Beef, changes in circumstances due to the pandemic meant that it was no longer wholesaling to smaller butchers, resulting in some of Quin's beef being brought in from other wholesalers in Perth.

"All of our meat is Australian and we are very loyal to our wholesalers," Mr Quin said.

Due to the increase in freight costs, they now have a refrigerated van that travels to Perth twice a week to pick up stock.

"We are fortunate that our supplier has a warehouse and they hold our sheep and our pigs until they can be picked up," he said.

Mr Quin said the lambs and pigs were usually brought in whole and broken down at the shop.

While they do breakdown some of their beef, the size of the facility restricted how much they could process.

"We try to provide as much variety in our products as we can," Mr Quin said.

The butchers also offers a service that they call private beef, which are custom kills for local farmers and involves cutting, packing and labelling the beef to customer requirements.

"We'll pick up the carcases from the abattoir, bring them back into the shop and it is a good way for my apprentices to learn the skill of breaking down beef," he said.

Their best-selling beef product is usually scotch fillet, though a strong cattle market resulting in price increases has meant premium cuts were less heavily demanded.

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The market outlook suggests that the strong cattle values will continue for the next couple of years, but Mr Quin said they strive to be as competitive as they can.

In Northam, Quin's has to compete against three major supermarkets and a soon-to-be-open Spudshed, along with click and collect and home delivery from supermarkets companies such as Hellofresh and other wholesalers.

"I am always aware of the competition and try to stay on top of it," Mr Quin said.

COVID-19 helped to bring customers back to the butcher shop when some of the larger supermarkets had difficulty supplying some products.

"It was unbelievable the number of hours we put in at the store because of the enormous demand we received,'' Mr Quin said.

"We have retained some of those customers and we are still going strong."

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Mr Quin said in the future, people will have to make a conscious decision to go and support their local butcher.

"People have to understand that it may not be the cheapest option but they are going to get a good service and a good product," he said.

The display cabinet at Quin's Gourmet Butchers, Northam Boulevard Shopping Centre.

The main benefit of supporting the local butcher was the customer relationship.

"We have to offer a better service than anywhere else and a product that is just as good, if not better, than our competitors and at a price that the customer wants to pay and that's what we aim for,'' he said.

"We offer variety, freshness and a conversation over the counter."

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Community involvement means a lot to Quin's Gourmet Butchers.

Mr Quin believes you have to give back to the community and one way they do that is by sponsoring sporting clubs, community groups and schools.

"We are a community corporate ambassador for our local Comfort Quilts Against Cancer, for which we hold an annual golf day," he said.

Quin's have also been involved in Pink Up Northam, Movember, World's Greatest Shave and many more events.

"We try to be involved as much as possible," Mr Quin said.

Value-added products are a must, according to Mr Quin, especially with peoples increasingly busy lifestyles.

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The majority of its chicken is value-added and makes up nearly 30 per cent of the counter.

As for beef, there is plenty of choice, including crumbed or marinated beef.

"The products are pre-prepared so that when people get home they can just put it in the oven," he said.

"These days everything has to be value-added, you can't just be a steak and sausage shop, so we try to add value to as many products as we can."

To reach more customers, the butcher also offers a range of gluten-free products, which have become popular.

"I have two vegetarian daughters and one who is coeliac so I am well aware of the changing eating habits and dietary requirements of people," Mr Quin said said.

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He said his personal favourite meat cut was scotch fillet, cut three-quarters of an inch to an inch thick and cooked well done on a barbecue, though he can be swayed by crumbed sausages.

Their most popular pre-prepared meat is salt and pepper pork cutlets, but it depends on the week.

Social media has become an important tool in advertising and promoting the business.

"We find that whatever we advertise on social media we will sell that day," Mr Quin said.

"Social media is a huge platform, we advertise on Facebook, Instagram, we have a web page and an online store."

To reach a broader audience of potential customers the business also advertises on radio.

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Recently they have invested heavily into online shopping, with click and collect, as well as offering delivery services.

With that, they offer meat packs ranging in price and variety to fill everyone's meat needs.

Some of the team members at Quins Gourmet Butchers, Megan Ashman, Dylan Drew, William Blinman and Andrew Quin.

"Not everyone has a lot of money to spend so we try to accommodate as best we can, we have a $55 pack, which will cover you for a week in the basics and they sell very well," Mr Quin said.

Customer traffic through the shop was consistent throughout the year with peaks in demand during public holidays.

"We might have some quiet days but across the board, we don't fluctuate too much from a busy week to a quiet week, it's pretty constant," Mr Quin said.

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Christmas, in particular, was a busy time of the year for Quin's butcher, with 300 hams being smoked this year.

"We start cooking them on November 20 and we do that seven days a week right through until Christmas, cooking about 15 hams per day in our smokehouse," Mr Quin said.

Over the years Quin's Gourmet Butchers has received multiple awards and commendations for its products.

The most recent accolade was at the Australian Meat Industry Figures' WA sausage king final 2020/2021, where the team finished in second place for their leg ham on the bone.

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