Image of Gary Reid from Howick Village Butchery

Gary Reid – Howick Village Butchery

“I originally started out in Howick and have now gone full circle, as I’m back here after long periods away. I went to Mellons Bay Primary from seven years-old and then Howick Intermediate and Pakuranga College. From there, I did a four-year butchering apprenticeship starting in Pakuranga and then moving to Highland Park Foodtown.

After my apprenticeship, I decided to go travelling, so I went to Australia and ended up in Perth for thirteen years as a butcher. I came back to Pukekohe/Franklin for another twenty-three years, living on a lifestyle property, and ended up with a business in Waiuku. We downsized when the kids grew up and moved to Beachlands, then the shop became available and it all fell into place. I was back in Howick where it all started!

It has been great to be back because it still feels like a village. Physically it has changed since I grew up here when parts were just farmland. Now the area is a lot more built up, but the main street still feels the same. Despite having grown so much, it still feels like a small community and everyone is still friendly – which is a rare thing in this day and age.

Initially the business was really hit hard by the first lockdown. Early government information suggested we would be an essential business and then three hours prior to lockdown, they met in parliament and decided that green grocers and butchers weren’t essential, which meant we had to stay shut. It was hard and a lot of butchers lost a lot of work, stock and money out of it.
Luckily for me, it was not that bad as I was the only one working. My only issue was getting out my stock as quickly as I could. I ended up freezing most of the stock that I had left and got my son to organise a website for online ordering, which is something we didn’t have prior to lockdown. The website took ten days to set up, and after that I was able to get back into the shop and get up and running with local home deliveries.

The website proved its worth in the second lockdown as business took off again! Online ordering has now dropped away as people have been able to leave their homes and come in-person. I think people like coming into the shop as they appreciate the service and quality a traditional, local butcher can offer over what mainstream supermarkets sell.

We only stock New Zealand meat, we make our own small goods – such as sausages, we generally also age our meat before we sell it, which means it tastes better and is more tender. We also do free-range chicken, grass-fed beef and lamb. Our pork is accredited and audited by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and the SPCA so we know our animals are raised in healthy, happy environments. We use New Zealand meat and New Zealand pork, while supermarkets import up to 60% of their pork and meat stock.

This whole lockdown experience has taught me that positivity is really important. When it is tough, just be positive with people and they will be positive back. Look on the bright side of life!”