By BECKY GILLETTEA couple of generations ago, butcher shops were common. Today most meats are packaged off site, possibly in another state, and sold in large supermarkets. Reviving the old tradition in Hattiesburg—while adding quite a few new twists such as ready to go casseroles—is a Hub City favorite called the Lil’ Butcher Shop http://www.lilbutchershoppe.com/ at 1910 Broadway Drive.
Brothers Steve Dyar and David Lawson own the Lil’ Butcher Shoppe, which is currently in the process of expanding by building a facility next to the store that has served customers for 26 years. The new facility will be twice as large, but still cozy for customers. Most of the additional space is to give employees more room for back room processing.
Lawson said customers really like being able to stop in for the finest quality beef, pork and poultry cut the way you want it with no questions asked. They also have 14 varieties of smoked sausage, and twice-baked stuffed potatoes made from shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat or bacon and cheddar. Other popular offerings include homemade crawfish pies, etouffee stuffed chickens, stuffed pork chops, boudin, gumbo, Mardi Gras pasta sauce and Country Girl’s Creamery Milk.
“Basically, everything is to carry home and heat up to eat,” Lawson said. “We don’t serve to eat here on the premises,” Lawson said. “We make the crawfish pies from family recipes, and our boneless chickens stuffed with etouffee are very popular. Most families today, both the husband and wife are working. One of them can stop by and pick up a casserole to put in the oven, so we do the work for them.”
While the great food is the main attraction, the Lil’ Butcher Shoppe employees also pride themselves on having personal relationship with their customers, some of whom they see several times a week.
“Over the 26 years we are selling to the kids that used to come in with their mama,” Lawson said. “It is just really personal. We know what our customers like and how they like it. We love to spoil them. Good customer service is what makes us stand out with customers.”
He doesn’t view big grocery stores as competition. He feels like once Lil’ Butcher gets a customer in the door and are satisfied, they’ll be back. Some people prefer to stop at a small shop rather than going to a big supermarket where it might be a long walk just to pick up a few things.
Lawson’s nephew, Brian Dyar, is the manager of the shop. “His dad and I are kind of laid back,” Lawson said. “Brian in the brain stormer. We like the idea of this family-owned business going into the next generation.”
They are getting excited about moving into the new building soon. There will be more display cases. They will have a bigger variety of casseroles and other products. They are considering adding fresh baked breads. Daily they are getting more and more requests for grass-fed meats, so they are looking into offering those in the future.
While in a bigger space, they don’t want to lose that small shop feeling of personal attention that customers love.
The staff at the Lil’ Butcher Shoppe has grown from the original two to 14 now. Employee Angie Gipson said what keeps them thriving is providing great customer service.
“The other big part of it is having God first in it,” Gipson said. “I’ve been doing this with them for 22 years. I love every minute of it. It has been awesome. You don’t have to worry about hustle and bustle of getting into to buy something at a much larger store. You can get what you need and get on out. People love coming and getting to pick out what they want. If they don’t see what they want, we cut if for them. We get everything they need. We know a lot about our customers, and enjoy seeing them.”
Over the years, a lot of visitors to Camp Shelby have bought from the Lil’ Butcher Shoppe and are particular fans of the smoked sausage. The shop gets requests for the sausage from all over the country. After moving into the new building, the original shop will be remodeled to become a USDA inspected sausage processing plant.
“Our goal is to ship sausage packed in dry ice throughout the country,” Lawson said.
“We are looking to growing with our customers, but still stay the small town butcher shop. Our area to work in the back is a little bigger with the new building, but we are still going to be that convenient little butcher shop.”
The Lil’ Butcher Shoppe gets great reviews from customer’s on its Facebook page, which has more than 14,000 “likes.”