Feature Vendor Interview – Medicine Hat Meat Traders

Feature vendor of the week: Medicine Hat Meat Traders 
At last week’s market we caught up with Todd from Medicine Hat Meat Traders.

What do you sell?
We offer a soft beef jerky product in five different flavors

Where are you located?
The butcher, who is a friend of mine, makes the product in Medicine Hat, Alberta. He has a ranch about 5 minutes east of Medicine Hat. He built a meat processing facility there and he’s been a butcher for the last 8 years. I am located in Wetaskiwin and I have 11 markets from Innisfail to Edmonton. His wife does 5 markets in Calgary, Banff and Canmore. Him and his son produce it all and look after 3 markets, 2 in Medicine Hat and 1 in Lethbridge.

You do a lot of markets! Do you have a favorite?
Yes I do 11 myself but we have 19 markets in total and 3 retail outlets currently. St. Alberta in Edmonton is the busiest craziest market I have ever worked. I like Red Deer, it gets a good crowd but St. Albert is probably about 6 times what I do on my best market. It’s just a crazy market. 

How was the business started?

My friend Greg Pahl who is the butcher and rancher, used to be a rancher full time. He wanted a change and decided he wanted to become a butcher. He took some courses at Olds College and became butcher. He sold his land and cattle to his brothers ranch, built a meat processing facility on his ranch and has been a butcher ever since. The beef jerky kind of took off after the first year and he’s been doing jerky non-stop every summer since.

What is a “must know” or “must try” from Medicine Hat Meat Traders?
Well, our jerky is little unique in that he grinds it, forms it, and smokes it so It is softer to chew than regular jerkies. You can try them all, we offer samples regularly every market and you can try all of the flavors. They are all gluten free, MSG free and soft to chew. 

Which is your favorite?

All of them. I prefer the saltier ones, so the original and black pepper. Honey garlic is our best seller. Chipotle Lime won Best Alberta Jerky award in 2012 and the teriyaki has a very nice sweet smoky flavor and sell more than the other ones so they are all good.

What makes you awesome? Why should people choose Medicine Hat Meat Traders?

There are lots of jerky vendors at all of the markets and its personal preference, what you like and the traditional jerkies are chewier. Ours are just a unique product in that it’s soft to chew and has good flavor. 
What do people need to be educated about when it comes to jerky?
That’s interesting. There is probably a good answer but I don’t have one off the top of my head.

Does anyone else sell your product?
There are always numerous jerky vendors but very few that offer a soft beef jerky that is ground and formed. Those that do have a different process than ours. Ours is just a little unique. You would have to come down and try them and see what they are like. Ours is just the unique soft jerky. They have other soft jerkies, for example the Lamb Lady down the street here has a jerky that is a little more like a sausage, and it’s very moist, very soft. There is the traditional jerky down the road which are very chewy they are very typical traditional jerkies like the ones you might buy in the stores. Ours is just soft and easy to chew. 
He just got it into CO-OP, IGA and a convenience store in Medicine Hat this past year. He’s a small mom and pop operation and I don’t think he could produce enough to get it into all of the stores right now. This fall we are going to try and get it into the CO-OP’s in Calgary. There are 24 of them with gas bars but it’s yet to be seen if we can get in there or not.

Do you like being Downtown?
I love being Downtown! I think there is great traffic Downtown there is great volume, I get lots of people sampling the product, and it’s a nice atmosphere.

What is your favorite thing about this market?
Well, this market has not a lot of vendors but there is a lot of people who are interested in the products. They will stop and sample and they don’t just walk by and look. They are all interested in the product and are trying samples of everything.

How long have you been involved with the Downtown Market?
This is my first year here and I am quite happy with the volume and location.

How did you first hear about the Downtown Market?
I was actually looking at markets. I was interested in doing the Red Deer Market on Saturdays but then I ended up getting the St. Alberta Market up in Edmonton and it was a little bit busier of a market. When I had all of my markets lined up I got turned down for one in Edmonton and this was second on my that day so I picked this one and have been here ever since. 

Is there anything you would like to see change about this market or Downtown?

The only thing I see about this market is that there is a lot of people down here with an interest, I would like to see more vendors. Participation is great, I think it’s a great market. There is lots of everything maybe a little bit more mix of things to buy and sell. 

You are here a lot. Do you have a favorite business on the street or favorite other vendor?

Well you know I really like the smokies but the honey girl is probably the best one. Nixon Honey, they have a good product. 
The bistro right across the street here has excellent products. I’ve tried their sandwiches and muffins and everything they’ve given me so far has been delicious. It’s kind of a hidden secret that one I think. The Bistro on Gaetz. Their muffins are outstanding.

What advice would you give people just starting out?
Well it takes a certain amount of time out of your life. You have to be able to deal with the elements and go in with a good product. I think you really need to be able to sample your product to the customers or be out in front trying to show them your product. You cannot just sit back and let them walk by you. You have to get out there and draw the people in. Put in the time. It’s a lot of work.

How do you define success?
Well, mine is more monetary. I am very happy with my job I think it’s a nice job that I stumbled into. It’s a lot easier and a lot more profitable than what I was doing before. It allows me my winters off. I’m happy with this job. What was the question, how do you define success? I define success as being happy with what you do.

Be sure to stop by Medicine Hat Meat Traders at this week’s ATB Downtown Market.
Find them online: http://www.mhmt.ca/MHMTJerky/Medicine_Hat_Meat_Traders.html
Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MedHatMeatTraders?fref=ts

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