“We’ve had a lot of interesting animals,” explained Marie Stephenson, who founded the family business more than 35 years ago alongside her husband, Art.
Art Stephenson honed his meat-cutting skills working for food supplier Swift and Company. One day during a company remodel, Marie said her husband was given the opportunity to take home
“They were demolishing this building and rebuilding it, so they wanted to know if he wanted that cooler,” she recalled.
As Marie tells it, Art figured he could use the cooler for family use. However, its purpose quickly became greater than that, as folks continued to seek out Art’s butchering skills even after he left Swift and Company.
“He [Art] thought that we would eventually just (prepare meat for people) in retirement, but that was like 35 years ago and we have been in the business ever since then,” said Marie.
Over the years, Stephenson Meat Cutting has benefitted from the conveniently located family home (near the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge) as well as word of mouth to gain a steady stream of customers. Their retail store now offers pepperoni, summer sausages, Canadian bacon, peppered bacon, beer dogs, and much more.
“I get a lot of people stopping in when they go to the refuge,” said Marie.
Business quickly became a family affair after Wally Stephenson, Art and Marie’s son, finished high school. Wally now operates a “kill truck,” which Marie said he takes to local farms to complete custom orders.
“We go to the farm, kill the animal, bring it in, clean it, special cut, and wrap it,” she said.
Other family members have become involved as well, according to Marie, helping with office work and by selling gift baskets – one of the family’s most popular offerings, especially around holidays.
While the Stephenson’s don’t sell locally-sourced meat products out of their home, Marie said she happily directs inquiring customers to area farms that do. And, she noted, demand is up for local and organic.
“I get asked (about local, organic meat) a lot. And it seems like if they [customers] want something that’s organic, they don’t care about the price. They want their organic,” she said.
Marie said demand is also high when hunting season rolls around.
“We don’t really advertise to cut wild game, but a lot of people will pull the meat off themselves and then they will bring it in and we will make them sausages and pepperonis – whatever they want.”
Stephenson Meat Cutting is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The family also sells products at the Ridgefield Farmers Market.