One of Letterkenny’s leading butcher shops closed its doors for the final time on Friday with the owner blaming the high cost of energy, the rising price of cattle and huge retail outlets for the closure.
Stephen Shiels opened ‘Value Butchers’ around two years ago and business excelled for the first six months. The shop underwent renovations which took longer than anticipated before it fell into line with many other regional and national commercial units as they struggled with the current downturn.
Originally from the Oldtown part of town, Stephen was no stranger to the locals who came to him for his high quality meats.
“The opportunity arose and I took it. I invested into it with my heart and soul. I am originally from Oldtown. All of my customers have been coming to me and telling me that they are very disappointed that we are closing. They understand that the cost of energy and cattle is phenomenal,” he said
Doherty’s Fresh Food Shop on the Main Street which has been there for as long as many people can remember also belongs to Stephen. He believes that parking is also an issue that affects many shops in the town.
“Parking is a problem on the Main Street. So many parking spaces were taken away for pedestrians but everyone drives into town. No one walks. People can drive into shopping centres and park at the door and walk straight in, that is what customers want. I had the same problem on the Oldtown Road,” he said.
He feels very disappointed that he had to close his recent business venture. The shop sold a huge range of stock, such as, duck eggs, meat, fish, groceries and newspapers.
“I am very disappointed that it came to this,” he said on Friday afternoon.
Stephen feels that food trade in Letterkenny is a dying trade.
“The food trade is a dying trade unless you have Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Lidl or Aldi. When they open their doors entire communities go to them.,” he said
Stephen believes that at the end of the day you can’t beat quality.
“We know where our meat comes from, all of our meat is sourced locally and we can tell you everything about it. We sell quality that is our strength and we can trace the meat right back to the farm it came from,” he said.
His belief in the butcher trade is one which is diminishing slowly. The Letterkenny man who spent twenty years in the trade cannot see any future for the business.
“The butcher trade is slowly declining. It will become a thing of the past,” he said.
Over the years Stephen has come to know most families in the community.
“You know a lot of people, that is what working in a local shop means. People come in and you know their families and you know them, that is all changing now,” he sadly said.