Third-generation meat shop owner using technology to drive business
For three generations, Andrew Ellis’ family has secured a spot in the Spanish Town Market in St Catherine for their meat shop.
Ellis recalled that as a teenager, he would spend a lot of weekends helping out in the establishment. But although he had a knack for the business, he was not too keen on following in his predecessor’s footsteps.
“Mi did wah do something different because mi see mi grandmother and grandfather was doing this. Mi seh mi wah try something different,” he told The Gleaner while skilfully cutting a piece of meat on Tuesday.
However, after leaving Guy’s Hill High school with seven Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects, Ellis said that his father encouraged him to join him in the business full time.
“Him a seh, basically, nuff people go university and college and can’t get a job when dem finish, so mi basically just tek on to it. Mi work wid him for five years and den mi just start my own,” he said.
That was a decade ago, and explaining that he loves it now, Ellis said he is also exploring ways to differentiate his enterprise from his parents’ and grandparents’.
His shop, eponymously named Andrew’s Meat and More, boasts a wide variety of local and imported meats as well as myriad legumes.
Ellis said he hires up to seven people, depending on the demand, but his nephew, 17-year-old Mallychie Spence, is a permanent worker who is eager to use technology to drive the business.
“The elderly persons are scared to come out mostly,” he said of the often crime-plagued town. “So we have to find ways to get them their meats. So we try to get online purchases and deliver the meat to them at no costs.”
Spence said deliveries are generally made in the towns of Old Harbour and Portmore.
“We understand that it’s small customers that help to grow the business. We don’t really try to focus on the restaurants alone, so we get the small customers their meats so they can feel appreciated and know that we’re looking out for them,” he told The Gleaner.
They have been using card machines instead of relying solely on cash for transactions, another departure from those before them.
“A way that we pull other customers is that we got card machines so we take credit and debit cards as well as online banking, so they can transfer money to the account. Small things like that make the younger people who don’t like [carry] a lot of cash swipe dem card and if they’re buying from somebody and realise we have card machines, ATM lines are long, they’d come and they’d purchase their meats,” Spence said.
A St George’s College past student, Spence admitted that he likes the business, but like his uncle in his younger years, he is looking forward to doing something different in the future.
“Without customer service, yuh not going to have any customers,” 33-year-old Ellis shared that a huge part of the success of his business is built on the relationship he maintains with his customers. The father of two says he can sell up 4,000 pounds of meat each week.
And although he has up to five large refrigerators to store meat, he is looking forward to building a cold room next year to improve efficiency.
“Mi need a cold room, a bigger space. Sometime when you come and have to pull up this fridge, pull up that fridge, it too much,” he said.