Celebrating their 90th year in business, Stephen’s Butcher Shop in Port Carling is as strong as ever. The Stephen Family has been in Muskoka for 6 generations, with 3 generations currently working in the store. Morley, his son Richard, daughter-in-law Jen, daughter Leann, and grandchildren Mitchell, Julie, Tyler and Alex can all be found behind the counter along with the best and brightest staff who are just like family.
Morley’s great grandfather, James Stephen, arrived from Scotland in the 1860’s and settled in Port Carling. The family started in the food business when Arnold Stephen (Morley’s Dad) opened Stephen’s Food Market in 1927 downtown Port Carling. In 1971, the land was expropriated and the store taken down in order to make room for the new two lane bridge. Morley packed up the butchering equipment and moved it to his garage at home thinking someday they could be put to use for custom cutting. Friends and neighbours urged him to start butchering again, so he decided to open his shop right in his garage and has been doing business there ever since.
The Stephen family continues to focus on providing the very best personal service and custom butchery to all customers. Each customer is served individually in an effort to make the customer’s experience both at the store and back home as convenient as possible. The shop is constantly expanding the product line and bringing in new items. The Butcher Shop partners and supports local businesses in Muskoka Lakes by providing retail space to promote their products. Inside the shop you can find local bakers, artisans and fresh local produce during the summer months as well as the traditional offerings of meat, fish, seafood, and poultry year round.
The Stephen’s continue to be surprised how quickly word travels in Muskoka. It is not uncommon to have people visit for the first time on a recommendation from other customers or businesses in town. “Our best advertising comes from people making an amazing meal for their friends and family using our products”, describes Richard Stephen. The Stephen’s are always grateful that people are able to find the store as it is not on the main street. The shop is often a meeting place for many to greet friends and neighbours who holiday in Muskoka.
The Stephen family is quick to mention that there is no better place to live than Muskoka. “The best thing about living and working in Muskoka is being able to enjoy all it has to offer year round”, describes Richard Stephen. “We love connecting with the local customers and those who cottage or vacation here. We are able to work with other community businesses to promote the area and each other’s unique offerings.”
Richard often points out the importance of building relationships with customers, and allowing the power of word of mouth in Muskoka to create a year round demand. “It is easy to see the bustling summers in Muskoka and think you can operate a successful business for a few weekends a year”, states Richard. “It is important for new businesses to research the area and identify practices to create year round sustainability, such as personable customer experiences and local business partnerships.”
Visit Stephen’s Butcher Shop at 8 Harris St, Port Carling, Ontario or online at stephensbutchershop.ca.