KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Members of the American Association of Meat Processors (A.A.M.P.) are gathering in Kansas City July 15-17 for the 71st American Convention of Meat Processors and Suppliers Exhibition. In addition to supplier exhibits at the trade show, the 3-day event offers attendees a number of educational breakout sessions designed to provide members with usable business operating tips.

The June 15 session titled, “Creating a Destination Location,” highlighted three meat retail operations that are successfully going above and beyond to attract customers and sell product.

Louis Muench of Louie’s Finer Meats in Cumberland, Wis., shared stories about his family’s retail operation, which offers more than 100 varieties of brats. He talked about having a pan of bacon frying behind the counter on Saturdays to help bring a tasty aroma into the store; featuring at least eight different varieties of samples daily; and having a promotion called “a pound for a pint” where customers who donate blood will get a pound of free meat when they come to his store.

“We all need to make money in this business,” he said. “You have to give them something they can’t get anywhere else.”

Terry Kerns, owner of Edgewood Locker, Edgewood, Iowa, shared other ideas about how to be a destination location retailer including the store’s Deer Hunters Open House, weekly cookouts during the summer and participating in area sports shows.

“Our goal is to keep our name at the top of the customer’s list,” he said.

Mike Sloan, Swiss Meat & Sausage Company, Hermann, Mo., offers customers a hot and cold sample bar daily. In addition, he works with other area merchants on a weekly Farmer’s Market and features an antique sausage kitchen, which is part of the store’s guided tours to visiting groups.

However, Sloan said regardless of the type of promotion retail operators do to help drive business through the door it’s crucial to have a quality product that will keep customers coming back. “Don’t forget the basics, you have to develop your product line first before you can be a destination for any customer.”

Operations such as Louie’s Finer Meats, Edgewood Locker and Swiss Meat & Sausage Co. are examples of businesses featured in MEAT&POULTRY’s monthly Small Business Matters column, written by industry veteran and contributing editor Steve Krut.