Gary Laird, owner of Laird’s Butcher Shop & BBQ was on hand with his crew at the chamber breakfast meeting to accept the Business of the Quarter Award.
Laird’s, located in the Santa Paula Shopping Center at 574 W. Main St., has been a hometown - and full service! - butcher shop for more than 30 years.
Chamber President John Chamberlain said Good Morning Santa Paula offers a chance to learn about businesses or issues and services affecting same, but also to recognize achievement.
“I can’t believe no one has not experienced Laird’s,” said Chamberlain, as “They do a great barbecue and are a great member of Santa Paula’s business community.”
Chamber Membership Director Barbara Kroon agreed noting she is a loyal customer who is greeted with a good-natured “ ‘What’s for dinner?’ “ as she walks in Laird’s door.
“The staff is great, amazing and I love going in there,” said Kroon.
Laird’s is also a strong community supporter: “Another facet of Laird’s is the giving back to the community,” by being involved in an array of activities such as Moonlight at the Ranch, Little League and Santa Clara Valley Hospice Home Support Group among others.
Laird said he enjoys supporting the community and “Here and there I give them things,” offering BBQ outright or at cost to a variety of nonprofits.
And that includes sponsoring two Little League and an All Stars team, particular favorites as, “I have seven grandsons,” and several are involved in the sports programs.
Laird also supports other sports teams and leagues including Santa Paula High School.
“Over the years we’ve tried to do as much as possible,” to support the community and Laird said he is grateful he was able to not only keep his business going during the Great Recession but to see it actually flourish.
Laird’s Butcher Shop & BBQ was debt free, and “When the economy went bad fortunately for us,” business actually improved and has kept improving to the point where “year to date we’re already over last year,” in sales.
“We love Santa Paula, the small businesses here are great but I think the city is barely tapping in to what it would take to bring people to the city... Limoneira’s,” East Area 1 residential development, “is going to be huge,” and Laird said all must be ready for it.
There are signs of growth with Big 5 Sporting Goods and Starbucks tapping into the strengthening retail market and Laird said he does his best to promote Santa Paula.
Whether behind the counter, or “Wherever we go, we try to project an image that this is what Santa Paula is all about,” an attitude that has proved successful.
Laird noted “Sixty-five percent of our business comes from outside Santa Paula,” and his customer base even includes Seal Beach where a customer drives in every three months to pick up their order.
“I think we’re doing a good job... my guys know we don’t want to be average, we can compete,” with the chains, and, “It’s a big deal to us to give a positive image of Santa Paula... we don’t want to be average, we want to be exceptional.”
Laird, who spends his one day a week off cleaning the shop from top to bottom, answered questions from the GMSP crowd including about tri-tip, almost unknown in other parts of the nation.
Part of the reason, said Laird is that other places, “Don’t have year-round barbecuing weather like California... “
He said out-of-state businesses should introduce tri-tip to their customers by putting out a barbecue and “offer samples... they have it, they just don’t know what it is!”
“Thank you for being here,” said Chamberlain. “Laird’s helps make our community unique... “
Laird’s maintains a full service meat counter with special emphasis on Harris Ranch all natural beef from Harris Ranch; aside from tri-tip another Laird’s signature item is homemade sausages. Other than its top-rated Santa Maria style barbecue catering service, Laird’s also has an in-store deli and offers quick and easy meal options.