There are a few hidden gems in Statesboro that make our town unique.
These are "secrets" that generations of Bulloch County residents are familiar with but newcomers are thrilled to discover. One of my favorites that fits into this category is Ellis Meat Market located at 117 West Main.
Their slogan, "The Biggest Little Meat Market in Statesboro" certainly rings true. The actual retail portion of the store is less than 1,200 square feet. However, if you compare them with any other grocery store in the market, the volume of meat they move through that tiny little store will blow your mind.
Ellis Meat Market was founded in 1967 by Lannie and LaVaughn Ellis in the backyard of their home in Hopulikit as a two person custom meat processing operation. Their primary customers then were local farmers who needed their livestock processed and packaged. As the demand for the business grew, Lannie saw a need to expand the retail side of the business. In the early 80s they opened the retail operation in the storefront on West Main that they continue to operate.
Nearly 50 years later, the business is now operated by the children and grandchildren of Lannie and LaVaughn. For the past few decades, brothers Kenny and Kimball Ellis were the face of the business along with their wives. Sister Angie Ellis Edenfield worked in the background, but also remained very active in the business.
After the unexpected death of Kenny a few years ago and the passing of Lannie in July, both Kimbell and Angie's roles have expanded. Shirl, Kimball's wife works day to day in the business, along with running a popular local catering company - Simply Elegant.
"We have continued the tradition Mom and Dad began this business with and that is focusing on the highest quality meat we can find, priced competitively and never forgetting that our quality and personal service is what sets us apart," Kimball Ellis said. "Our customers call us and tell us how many guests they are entertaining and we take care of the rest. For our regulars, we know what they prefer as far as types and cut of meat."
Stepping into the store is really like stepping back in time, not just in atmosphere but from the way you are greeted, the variety of meats and other products to each member of the team making sure you have everything you need to make your dinner for two or 200 a success.
You will find nearly every cut of fowl, goat, lamb, beef, pork, seafood and exotic meat imaginable. They also have frozen vegetables, prepackaged foods and dry goods.
"We have clients that visit us every day," Shirl Ellis said. "They walk in and ask me what is for dinner. I make recommendations, pull everything they need for a delicious meal and send them on their way."
Even though their actual store front is pretty small, their operation is impressive. They employee nearly 25 full-time workers and the footprint of the entire operation covers almost an entire city block.
"Many of our clients know us for our top shelf products and high quality custom cut meats. Our client base is very diverse and many of our clients depend on us as their primary grocery source. We offer great value with our "meat for the week" and other promotions. We want to be everyone's meat market and with that attention to meeting the needs of all of our clients has been a real big part of our success."
I hear rumors often that they are going to expand or rebuild the store," Angie Edenfield said. "The Ellis's squashed these rumors. They have a formula that seems to be working pretty well. I can understand the hesitation in tweaking the model. There is something special about stepping back in time when you enter the store that adds to the charm."
Please email DeWayne at email@example.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.