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‘Keeping On’ in times of hardship and social distancing

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MINDORO, Wis. (WXOW) - When you walk into Craig's Meats and Catering, you get the sense of family, pride, and tradition.

One of La Crosse County's oldest butcher shops lies deep in the heart of rural America. Gary Craig founded the meat processing center in 1980. Since then, they've sold wholesale, to retail stores like Woodman's, and directly to the public.

"Everything I do is homemade and comes from my recipes," said Gary.

Gary runs the small business with his daughter and son, Sherry and Brian. They've had visitors of all sorts to seek out their wide ranges of butchering expertise, including celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern for an episode of 'Bizzare Foods.'

But with the COVID-19 Pandemic, the longtime community staple has lost a chunk of their business.

"We've lost about 50 percent," said Gary. "The abruptly stopped. There was no little bit here, little bit there. it just stopped."

With celebrations like graduation, weddings, and even funerals all canceled due to emergency orders that limit gatherings, Craig's has had to focus all of their energy on moving products wholesale, to grocery stores, and directly to the public.

"Meat is expensive, so we try to work with the people and give them what they want and what they're going to use in their budget," said Sherry.

While Craig's continues to stay afloat, the meat market is also working with a number of local farms and local vendors who rely on each other.

"We have to buy local because we can't bring these animals in from 100 miles away," said Gary. "The affordability isn't really there, so... we have to buy local to support local, and they will support us, in turn, the farmers do and do their trade here, and [we] have a slaughter for them."

Planning for the next couple of weeks, especially with Easter coming up, has become increasingly difficult due to the fears of the spread of COVID-19.

"Right now, the unknown is out there, so to even want to go anywhere with this... I don't know where to go and where to begin," said Gary.

Craig's isn't alone as a multitude of small businesses feel the effects of shutdowns and stay-at-home orders. Small businesses often rely on other small businesses to stay alive. Gary added the best thing to do is call up those small businesses and see how you can support them whether it's by ordering for delivery, through the mail, or pickup.

"Keep supporting local businesses," said Sherry. "All of the local, small businesses really need your help right now."

You can learn more about Craig's Meats by visiting their website or giving them a call to place an order at 608-486-2212.

To support other local restaurants, visit WXOW's Takeout Guide. If you know a business that is still doing delivery or takeout, add them to the list here: WXOW Takeout Guide

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Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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