One sunny Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2004 we took a drive to our local sausage-maker to pick out a tasty treat for our weekend bar-b-q. We left the shop empty-handed. Why? The proprietor made great sausage, but had a lousy bedside manner. The conversation on the way home went something like this:
He said: “I’ll never buy sausage from that guy again! He’s an &*@$” (Pause for effect) “I could make sausage as good as his”
She said: “Of course you could sweetheart”
He said: “In fact, I’m going to make my own sausage”
She said: “Yes, dear”
He said: “You know what? I’m going to buy a sausage stuffer with my birthday money”
She said: “Uh huh”
And he did. And we made our first batch of sausage. But ours wasn’t as good as the other guy’s. It was better. We served it to a friend who said, “Hey, this is better than that other guy’s. Can I buy some?” So we made another batch. And our friend shared it with his brothers, who said, “Hey, can we buy some?” So we made another batch and … well, you get the picture.
When we came to the realization (with some surprise) that our little cottage industry was growing into a viable enterprise, business experts told us that to be successful, we had to do two things: 1) invest some money; and 2) write a business plan. These people are experts; they must know what they’re talking about! So we followed their advice. First, we invested some money ($20). Following the second point was a little more difficult, but we stuck with it. After ten gruelling minutes we had written our business plan. Here it is:
The following summer, he said, “You know, we should sell our sausage at the farmers’ market” and she said, “Are you crazy? Who’s going to buy frozen sausage on a hot day at an outdoor market?” But being the loving wife that she is, she decided to play along. So we borrowed a cooler … and sold out at our first market in 20 minutes. The next week we bought two coolers … and sold out in 30 minutes. So we bought two more coolers … and people walked up to our booth and said, “I heard about your great sausage. Can I buy some?” That week we lasted for an entire hour before we sold out. By the end of the summer of 2005 we had set up shop in five markets, and were coming home with empty coolers every week.
Being true to our carefully thought-out business plan (remember “we’ll give the customers what they ask for”) when they asked us to make chicken sausage, we decided to specialize. By the time the Calgary Farmers’ Market invited us to join their family in the spring of 2007 our product line had grown to 40 wild and crazy flavours of chicken sausage.
Food critics and customers alike have described our product as “the best sausage in the world”. Is it? We don’t know; we haven’t tried all the world’s sausages. But you should definitely judge for yourself. This is what we do know for sure (thank you, Oprah) … it’s all chicken, it’s all lean, it’s all made by hand. And our customers love it.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering … yeah, we’re still having fun.
Mick and Deneise Sherlock
Sausage Makers Extraordinaire
Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage