Ed Campbell has owned and operated The Happy Butcher in Lexington, S.C., a small city of about 18,000 people located 15 miles southwest of Columbia, since 1997. His business model – premium meat and outstanding customer service – remain unchanged after nearly 17 years.
“We have always stood for quality of product and quality of service,” Ed said in a recent telephone interview. “I feel like we’re a niche market, and that niche has to be strong. The strength comes from the quality of product and quality of service. We try to treat people like they’re part of a family.”
When a Western New York transplant recently stopped by the store to inquire about the availability of Sahlen’s products, Ed was taken a bit off guard. He had not heard of the legendary Buffalo line of hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats, but – with an increasing number of customers relocating from the Empire State – Ed decided to give the brand a look.
He liked what he found. No surprise – Sahlen’s and The Happy Butcher share a dedication to putting the best product on their customer’s plates.
“We have been building the relationship,” Ed noted. “We started out with just the hot dogs, and now we’re into the sausage and lunch meats because the quality is there. And I like the way (Sahlen’s) gives me good service. They talk straight, and I like people who do that.”
The Happy Butcher sells meat products that are minimally processed and have no artificial ingredients, antibiotics, or hormones. Sahlen’s has operated on the principle of delivering the freshest, highest-quality meat in the market since 1869. The two businesses were a natural fit.
“It’s not full of things like preservatives – that we don’t like,” Ed said. “Antibiotics and growth hormones, we don’t like those, either. We fight against those things. Sahlen’s is a very clean product. It’s a very good product.”
Ed enjoys the opportunity to introduce “skin-on” hot dogs to a Southern audience that is not familiar with Sahlen’s famous-in-Western-New-York-casing, occasionally handing out full-sized samples straight off the grill located in front of the store to customers visiting The Happy Butcher.
Buffalonians, take note — if you were to invite Ed over for a backyard barbecue, his take on Sahlen’s hot dogs may be different from what Western New Yorkers traditionally expect.
“Oh man, we would do it Southern style,” he said. “We would put it into a bun with mustard and chili. Now, I do like coleslaw on mine. When we make them here for people, we’ll put mustard, chili, coleslaw, sauerkraut or mustard on them – any of those is good.”
Ed plans to continue his work at The Happy Butcher for the foreseeable future, eschewing rapid growth for steady gains and the ability to be one-on-one with his customers.
And if you catch Campbell at meal time, you may find that he’s snacking on Sahlen’s – but not necessarily the hot dogs or sausage.
“Man,” he said, laughing, “the lunch meat is out of this world.”
The Happy Butcher is located at 5580 Sunset Blvd., Suite E, in Lexington, S.C. The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Visit The Happy Butcher online at www.thehappybutcher.com.