A northwest Calgary business that reached a 100-year milestone in 2021 has deep ties to Cochrane, and is showcasing its sense of community in various ways.
Bon Ton Meat Market in Crowfoot celebrated its centennial two years ago, and its second century of operation is already off to a strong start.
The market's co-owner, Greg Keller, has lived in Cochrane since 1967 and said supporting the town he's called home for more than 50 years has become an important part of Bon Ton Meat Market's business.
“I’m involved with a lot of guys from the rodeo, and...we do stuff for the Cochrane legion,” he said. “I try to do as much as I can to give back to my community.”
According to Keller and the business' website, Ed Roberts originally established Bon Ton Meat Market in Calgary's burgeoning downtown in the early 1920s. The butcher shop operated there for over half a century before relocating to Bridgeland in 1978.
From there, expansion requirements meant Bon Ton Meat Market eventually moved to the Stadium Shopping Centre in 1994, before relocating to its current Crowfoot location in 2013.
Its current spot means Keller's commute to work is now just a short drive away from his home in Cochrane.
"When we relocated, we needed a much bigger facility, but we also needed a big parking lot, so this location worked out perfectly for us,” said Keller, who has been with the meat market since 2002. His father Fred previously owned Cochrane's grocery store on Main Street before partnering with Bon Ton in 1994.
The proximity to Cochrane means many of Bon Ton's customers hail from the town, according to Keller.
“We get good support from Cochrane,” Keller confirmed. “The thing about Bon Ton is we draw from all over the city because we do what nobody else wants to do or can do.”
As a specialty market, Keller said Bon Ton sources virtually all its meat from Alberta – its lamb comes from Innisfail, its beef is sourced locally, its free-range chickens hail from a farm near Okotoks, and its turkeys come from Dalemead. The only thing that isn't local is Bon Ton's veal, which comes from Quebec.
What Keller said he enjoys most about working with Bon Ton is the market's old-fashioned approach to business.
“I enjoy the fact we have completely bucked the trend,” he said. “We’re not changing with new ways of doing business, with online or doing this and that. We’re completely fixated on quality products and customer service – when you come in the door, one person looks after you from start to finish.
“Because every customer is served individually, it’s very much a person-to-person business, and I really enjoy that.”
In the last year, Bon Ton Meat Market has demonstrated solidarity with Ukraine's defence against Russia by hiring two refugees from the eastern European country. As well, Bon Ton recently gave away $750 worth of gift certificates to Ukrainian families that recently landed in Cochrane.
“When that opportunity came along, if we can give someone a hand-up, we’re definitely going to be there for that,” Keller said
“Truthfully, I really respect the strength these Ukrainian people have to pack up and move all the way across the world to a new culture and everything else. The ones I’ve met aren’t asking for anything. They just want a new start in life. And that’s the kind of people we want in this country, isn’t it?”