Ordinarily, LDF Country Market Butcher Ann Christ likes to be on the meat department floor. She enjoys talking with customers. She takes time to discuss cuts of meat and educates people on how to prepare each cut. She enjoys reading their faces. But these are no ordinary times.
The new normal forced upon the world during the pandemic requires a different approach. Ann follows the rules of social distancing and keeps her gloves and mask on at work. She takes seriously her role in keeping people safe, both at work and home. I’m doing it for you and me, she says.
In the beginning of the pandemic, there was some shock when she needed to limit the close, high-touch customer interactions she enjoys. In the past, customers could peek into the cutting room and say hello. Now, the door is closed.
The separation cuts both ways, because Ann loves talking and advising customers on her chosen craft. She can talk all day about the variety of products the meat department offers, she says. That’s what makes her role in the community special, from her perspective and the customers.
Ann always offers a different range of options to meat department shoppers. Albeit with a mask on now. She says you never know a person’s situation. So she works to give them options in pricing. You never know what a person can afford, she says.
In the beginning of the pandemic there was high demand to stock up on meat. She works to reassure shoppers the supply is there.
“We truly care about our role in feeding the community,” she says. “Helping people feel comfortable meat will be there when they need it is part of my role as a butcher.”
Ann laughs as she describes herself as more than a butcher. She’s an unofficial psychologist these days, she says, with a smile. Anyone who knows Ann knows she cares about her customers. Every hour, Ann sanitizes high-touch areas of the meat department, among other safety protocols she and her team follow daily.
“Customers thank me all the time for sanitizing,” Ann says. “She says she can see the smiles behind their masks.”
Ann takes her systematic approach to safety home after work too. She has two toddlers at home, and works to keep them safe too. She cares for her family and she cares about her customers. And, Ann cares about her butchering craft too. Feeding families is her passion, and Ann plans to share her passion for butchering with her two sons.
“When I first started in the butcher business, I was nervous,” Ann shares. “It was mainly a male dominated business. It’s physically demanding, but there are more butcher ladies entering the profession with more now owning their own business.”
Mentors are important to learning the butcher business, Ann says. And, there’s none better than her mentor, she says. Chuck the Butcher, as he’s known, has been in the meat-cutting business for more than 50 years. Coupled with Ann’s pursuit of her business degree at Nicolet College, this female butcher is positioning herself for a successful future in the meat-cutting profession. Her’s will be an accomplishment nearly as rare as the quality cuts of meat she provides to customers daily.
Together, Ann and Chuck make a formidable butcher team purely from an expertise perspective. Their experience in working with customers, however, makes the meat selection experience truly unique for shoppers at the LDF Country Market.