On June 13, 1947, Gerhardt and Esther Schmidt purchased a small, one-man custom butcher shop in Nicollet, Minnesota from Anthony Woodley. At that time, the building was comprised of a smokehouse, production area, a 12-foot meat counter and the apartment where Gerhardt and Esther lived and raised their two sons. They had one employee.
In May 1975, Gerhardt and Esther’s sons, Gary and Bruce, purchased the business. Gary assumed handling of the accounting and marketing side of the business, Bruce served as the general manager overseeing the day-to-day sausage and smokehouse operations. Their spouses, Geri and Betty, also joined the staff at this time handling the retail aspect of the meat market. The business was incorporated in November 1975.
In 1977, a sharp freezer capable of holding 57 freezer trucks and thousands of pounds of boxed product was added. This freezer space was used to accommodate the custom processing.
With fewer farms, smaller families and less livestock, Bruce and Gary decided to expand the retail area. In 1983, they acquired the Nicollet Oil Company property on the south side of the meat market. A new building was constructed adding 3,000 square feet. The new facility, which was completed in 1984, was used for expanding the retail and production areas. Wanting to create a unique shopping experience, the new floor plan separated the retail and production areas with glass giving customers the ability to watch the cutting, packaging and sausage production.
In 1990 a new wood-fired smokehouse was added to accommodate the volume of sausage that was being produced, while an electric smokehouse was installed in order to produce new sausage products. An adjacent building was purchased in 1995, which now consists of a kitchen, the office, break room, packaging room and warehouse.
You can see by the pictures that Gerhardt and Esther continued to help at the Meat Market even into their 90s. Gerhardt would ride along to pick up animals and was at the Meat Market daily. Esther continued to help with venison billing.
In 2003 the retail area was expanded to incorporate the deli. This new development doubled the retail space that now holds 56 feet of full service counters and 75 feet of self-service cases. On August 2, 2005, Gary sold his portion of the business to his son, Ryan. In 2008 Bruce sold his portion to Ryan, making him the sole 3rd generation owner. The meat market currently has a staff of approximately 50 full-time and part-time employees.