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While Ivesdale businesses have closed, including the popular bar The Blarney Stone, Arends Farm Meats and Butcher Shop is busier than ever and has been so for much of the pandemic.

“We have been extremely busy,” employee Jennifer Hendershot said. “When Tyson Foods slowed down on their production due to COVID, a lot of people weren’t able to get enough meat for the week for their family. So they would call us or get a quarter of beef or a side of beef so they could fill their freezers. It’s cheaper than buying retail cuts individually anyway.”

The small shop in the tiny town of 254 people has seen an influx of both interested buyers and farmers who couldn’t take their beef to larger butcher shops. Normally, a steady stream of cattle would come through, keeping the store busy but not overwhelmed.

Now, it’s a massive wave that has the shop’s schedule full until the end of 2021.

“Throughout the year, we were very steady (before COVID-19),” Hendershot said. “Every month, we were busy, however, most farmers and most customers never had to wait longer than four weeks. However, because of COVID, they were having to wait sometimes two months to get their meat.”

One farmer, though, doesn’t have to wait. Owner Randy Arends is one of the rare farmers in the area who also owns a slaughter shop.

For Hendershot, it’s no surprise that a small-town butcher shop is a go-to place when grocery stores weren’t stocked.

“I think a lot of people were wanting to know where their meat came from,” she said. “They were wanting to get something that was farm fresh, hormone-free, anti-biotic-free, and they wanted to know how their meat was raised.”

— Anthony Zilis

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