Our latest Customer Tale is something a little different because Tony is in fact a Ginger Pig employee, although he started out as a customer. As well as being a butcher, Tony also became somewhat of a butchery marketing prodigy in the 80s, using innovative ideas in his shops that have our marketing team fervently taking notes.
Chatting over a coffee in beautiful leafy Barnes, we learn how Tony spent 25 years in the butchery industry with his father, who had been in the business from the age of 13, after his own father sadly passed away. He was one of eight children and working in the butchers on Portobello Road meant he could bring home leftover cuts of meat to feed the family, as well as bringing in an income.
Knowing the hard work and long hours involved in butchery, Tony’s dad didn’t initially encourage him to join the family business. He explored a few options, starting out as an insurance broker but knew he eventually wanted to be working for the family shop in West London, which he joined when he turned 21. Tony talks fondly of how there would be two queues around the block, one specifically for his beloved Dad where customers could get specially requested cuts, that he knew how to do so brilliantly. Weekly early morning trips to Smithfield Market were par for the course, with Tony’s father teaching him everything he knew.
In the mid 1980’s, Tony had a brainwave. He observed how other shops would promote (and often fail) their products in-store, perhaps with some leaflets or recipe cards. However, Tony wanted to go one better. He began producing videos of butchery and how various cuts were cooked. These were edited in Soho’s Dean Street and then broadcast on a television set up in the shop, to give customers inspiration whilst they were waiting - the perfect cross-selling tool. Tony saw an opportunity and approached other butchers, whom he also created video content for by working with a BBC cameraman to capture the footage. He then set them up with their own TVs, charging them each month for the service. Could Tony be one of the very first ‘influencers’ before social media was born?
Years later, Tony had gone on to do other things in his life and eventually retired and sold his business. His good friend was in the same position and was looking to return to where he was originally from, Barnes in South West London. The two pals decided to move in together and they would regularly saunter past and visit The Ginger Pig shop on Church Road. He would affectionately recall his former life in butchery to his friend on regular occasions, one day he suggested Tony should get in touch and see if there was any work available.
Tony was unsure to begin with and will happily say himself, he is certainly one of the more senior members of the team and he didn’t know if he would be taken seriously if he applied for a job. But any nerves or apprehension were soon lifted as the Barnes team took him under their wing. He started off serving under supervision of the manager to learn The Ginger Pig way of doing things but his former experience as a butcher soon shone through. The work is flexible around him, he checks in with the manager each Sunday to see how much work will needed of him for the following week. And years later, Tony is an integral and much loved part of the Barnes team.