After nearly two decades of working as an employee at AA Meats , Tammy Faelnar decided to put everything on the line in 2007.
That’s when she bought the neighborhood butcher shop at 5116 111th Street SW from then-owners Fae and Tom Crabill.
Faelnar has maintained a strong, loyal customer base despite a shift in consumer shopping habits over the last decade that tend to favor big box stores over specialized niche business.
“I love the people,” Faelnar says. “I love the customers. You learn something here every day."
Once customers step inside the iconic sunshine yellow and brick red building they immediately experience the neighborhood butcher shop charm.
Behind the counter are smiling employees eager to help customers find the perfect cut of meat – and tips for how to prepare it.
Along with its focus on providing “old fashioned, counter service”, AA Meats prides itself on its diverse meat offerings.
A long display case stretching the length of the store features meats and cuts not available at the grocery store.
Store-made jerky and peperoni sticks spill out of bins on one end, while stuffed pork chops, tenderloin steaks, spare ribs and whole briskets await purchase at the other end.
White boards behind the counter advertise catfish fillets, lobster tail, shrimp and king crab legs, along with pricing for whole pigs and per pound amounts for different body parts of a cow and pig. Then there are case prices for everything from hamburger patties and chicken tenders to corn dogs and beef, chicken and pork tamales.
And don’t forget “exotic” meat like alligator, ostrich, turtle, frog legs whole rabbits, goat, elk and wild boar ribs, to name a few.
Chances are if your recipe calls for it, AA Meats has it.
And if they don’t?
“Ask one of us and we can get it,” Faelnar says.
Faelnar admits the thought of buying the business in 2007 was “terrifying” and not something she ever considered. But maybe just as scary was the unknown of a new owner and the changes they would bring.
In her first six months as owner Faelnar worked 60 to 70 hours a week with no time off. She relied on guidance from the Crabills – who she considers family – and knew that to be successful she needed to surround herself with a team that shared her love for the business.
Twenty-seven years after walking through the doors as an employee looking to add a second income to her family, Faelnar now oversees seven people – including two school-aged employees. She believes in teaching the trade to the younger generation the same way she learned it – through on-the-job training.
“My kids would know what a piece of meat is by looking at it,” she says proudly.
AA Meats (aameats.net) is open six days a week, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the first two Sundays of each month 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Because of its longevity in the community and its commitment to local – including hiring local, processing local products and strengthening our local economy – the Lakewood City Council recognizes AA Meats as its October 2017 Business Showcase.