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Oct 18, 2008 02:29 PM

Butcher upselling- you have to buy more

We have a very upscale butcher shop nearby. I asked DH to go there today and get 6 rib lamb chops. He came home with 8- the butcher said he had to take the whole rack which was 8 chops. Then I remembered that the last time I asked for 2 1/2 lbs of chicken cutlets they told me I had to take 3 lbs because otherwise they would have 1/2 chicken breast left.
Also remember that ground lamb and veal only comes in 1 lb packages. I think this is a scam. I can go to the butcher counter of my local supermarket and get the exact amount of whatever that i want. What do you think???

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  1. When a person decides to become a Butcher, goes through the necessary training, learns the inside ropes of running a meat business and invests his time and money to open a shop.....I believe he earns the right to set his policies, prices and practices for selling his goods however he wishes, provided he does so with the highest standards and with quality products....all with the utmost respect for his customers.

    With regards to the rack of lamb, I see no problem with imposing a minimum purchase of sorts. If the lamb is uncut to begin with, it does not seem unreasonable to me to expect him to want to sell the entire rack and not just a portion of it. Cutting or slicing into chops is a courtesy and an expected service you pay a premium for shopping at his store. If the items are pre-cut, pre-sliced, I see no reason why a butcher would require you purchase any more than your desired amount. I have never experienced the problem you have mentioned in any Butcher Store I have frequented in my travels.

    With regards to the ground meats, I also do not find it unreasonable to set a minimum of one full pound for purchase.....however, if I were a regular customer and they imposed the rule on me, I would probably find it funny and silly to impose.

    Finally, for the Chicken Cutlets.....that's just plain wrong and offensive and reason enough for me to find a new Butcher for my future business.

    Bottom line is if you feel it is a scam for the policies....why would you continue to purchase there under any circumstance. I am sure there are other quality butchers in your area. I would suggest you find another one for your future business. It appears to me your present choice of Butcher values his profits more than your satisfaction.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Thanks for the opinion. RE the lamb chops, I did not expect that they would have to cut up a rack of lamb . Actually I think that they do not have precut lamb chops so that they can impose this requirement of buying the whole rack. I also think they package the round meat in one pound pkgs so that they require you to buy more. For this reason I have stopped using them on a regular basis. Unfortunately, they are the only butcher in the area (other than supermarket) and sometimes the only place to find certain cuts of meat.

      1. re: emilief


        You should consider expanding your options and consider ethnic markets for your meat and seafood purchases, if you have not already. To be honest, nothing offends me more than paying premium prices for items I can purchase for much less elsewhere....let me explain that by saying I have been involved in the food industry for many years and I have access to wholesale food suppliers to restaurants and such. I also belong to Costco and have access to a company called The Restaurant Depot that supplies the industry with quality meats and seafoods. Looking in the parking lot of the Restaurant Depot, you see the commercial trucks with company logos painted on them and invariable you will see butcher stores and food distributors purchasing there for resale. In a way, it's a curse to know what these stores do when they mark up their prices. Using your description of "Upscale Butcher Shop", if they are clearly bringing in Prime or Choice Meats...they deserve every penny for the prices they set.....but if they are bringing in the same quality meats I can purchase on my thank you. There will always be stores buying low and selling high. Stick with places that earn their reputation and are willing to answer any question you have......including where they get their meats from

        From looking at you history I see you are either from the New England or Boston area. I recall from a previous thread I commented on, there is an Asian Market named Super 88 that seems to have a good reputation. As for Rack of Lamb....I always purchase mine at Costco's usually under $15 for the whole rack and cutting it into chops is quite simple,......and it is much less than purchasing from the butcher. The lamb is either from Australian or New Zealand.

        Here's a thought for you. Twenty years lamb from Colorado was considered good, but Imported Australian Lamb was considered the best by many, and in very limited supply. Fast forward through the years, with better production and transportation methods, getting Imported Australian or New Zealand Lamb is easy and readily available...and quite reasonable in the food snobs consider Imported Lamb only so so. Funny how people perceive things over time.

        For me though, American Lamb is far superior for taste and texture. Check the links for stores near you for possible future meat options.

    2. Upscale? But not custome for sure.

      In order of increasing silliness -
      1 - chicken breasts - jfood usually asks for a number of breasts, not a weight. But the butcher is correct in that he could not self half a chicken breast. But the again they only come in one size? Ask for smaller breasts
      2- lamb. You go in and ask for 6 lamb chops, you're told 8 is the minimum. OK maybe he only sells as a whole or half rack.
      3 - Ground meat - total silliness. You should be able to buy any weight desired.

      This sounds like a very rigid individual, You either deal with it or go elsewhere.

      5 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        Deceptive practices for sure....for those doing the math, I have never seen half a breast weigh in at 8 fact, I have never seen one full breast weigh in at 8 ounces either. A very large breast would be 6 ounces if I am not mistaken from a typical broiler or fryer from a bird under 6 pounds.

        From their respective sites: Perdue Perfect Portions Breasts....4.8 ounces Tyson Foods Breasts....4.0 ounces

        1. re: fourunder

          Deceptive, silly, scam, whatever.

          At least everyone would agree the butcher is not very customer focused.

          1. re: jfood

            or intensely lazy and greedy. If he had already portioned and packaged a bunch of ground meat, he may just be trying to sell those......trying to buy a partial rack of ribs or half a chicken breast is resolutely silly! either way, the guy doesnt sound nefarious, just that he is going to do it HIS way and thats that. which of course is fine, its his livelyhood.....

        2. re: jfood

          See I'm not sure about the ground meat. I have a very good butcher that I now exclusively buy from. If I'm just buying ground beef mince I can purchase any weight I like, however, if I want other types of ground meat which are not as such 'standard' eg. veal, chicken or lamb then I have to buy a minimum 1/2 kilo because they have to grind these on the spot for me and anything less than half a kilo is problematic in an large butcher's grinder. I don't have a problem with this as a) I'm getting meat ground on the spot b) he really is the most fabulous butcher who cares about all his products c) he has a small but very well stocked deli d) he doesn't add any preservatives to his ground meats.

          1. re: jfood

            I think I would rather deal with it if the product is good rather than frequent the 'butcher' at the supermarket. I believe in supporting independence, quality and competition none of which can easily be associated with the 'butchers' in the supermarket.

          2. If your butcher sells prepackaged ground meat, they don't count as "upscale" in my book. Unless by upscale you just mean expensive, maybe.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tmso

              Well, the ground meat is packaged by the butcher. I can go to Whole Foods and they have ground veal, ground lamb, ground pork in the case, not packaged and they will give me whatever weight I want, so that is where I get it. Re the ribs and chicken cutlets, I did not ask to buy a partial rack or half a chicken breast. I asked DH to get me lamb chops. I expected they would have precut lamb chops. Same with chicken cutlets, thought the would have them. All I am saying is that it seems that they have nothing prepared for people to buy so that they can say,well, if you want lamb chops, we need to cut up a rack and you have to buy the whole thing and if you want chicken cutlets, you need to buy chicken breasts for us to make into cutlets.I never asked to buy part of a rack or part of a chicken breast.

              1. re: emilief

                Some butchers dont have precut rack of lamb, simply because of demand. At some times in the season, it is difficult to stock enough lamb racks and cutting them to have on display could be risky as many people demand multiple racks at a time.

                As for the lamb, if it is not already ground up and packaged, large grinding machines make it very difficult to produce a small quantity of ground meat. If you can only get a pound, maybe ask them to wrap up the extra half pound or whatever and put it in your freezer.

                again, few people ask for chicken cutlets, and those who do tend to be very specific about exactly what size, thicken, and if they want them pounded or not. In this case its best to ask the butcher directly. If there are only one size breast, it may be difficult to get your exact size.

                these things happen when you buy natural meat free of hormones, the quantitys may be limited and animal size variable.