The Best Butcher on the South Coast: That’s the aim, that’s her reputation

The Kiama Bugle: 26 March, 2024.

Back in 2015 Tina Henderson walked into the butcher in the centre of Shellharbour and applied for a job.

And some of the first words out of her mouth to the then owner were: “I’m going to buy this business off you one day.”

The owner laughed. 

But thus it came to pass. 

She became part owner in 2016, and full owner in 2022. Not everyone could have seen the potential, and not everyone could have made it work. But she did. 

And now, with million dollar apartment blocks under construction up and down the main strip of Shellharbour and the entire area undergoing rapid demographic transformation, she’s sitting on a goldmine. 

“I just knew,” she recalls. “It was really weird.”

Sometimes destiny shakes us all. Sometimes things just feel right. 

A decade ago Shellharbour was a lost in time surfing village. Finding a decent cup of coffee was an impossibility. Now there are cafes up and down Addison Street, the main strip, and the atmosphere has totally changed. Directly opposite her shop the upscale Harbourside Apartments are under construction, while on the corner at the top of the street, where the old garage used to be, the Areia Apartments are nearing completion. 

“The butcher trade has always been my passion,” Tina says. “I love food, I love cooking, and I love the relationship you build up with people. 

“You become part of people’s families, and part of their events. 

“I get introduced as the Butcher Lady. It makes me proud of the quality and service we have.

“Ninety percent of my customers will ask: ‘What am I going to have for dinner?’ People are time poor. They don’t want to think about it.”

While small businesses across Australia have struggled in recent years, Superior Meats on Addison has thrived. Tina says there are two planks to her success, a high quality product, and extensive community relationships, including with the 16 local suppliers who service her business, with everything from fruit and vegetables to marinades. 

As for the community involvement, the business supports the Shellharbour Sharks Under 18s, and charities including supplying events for the homeless. 

As for the quality, “We don’t talk about Woolworths and Coles. It is a totally different product, a different quality. 

“That is our point of difference. Ours is a fresh product. If you see meat in a supermarket with a shelf life of more than two days, it has been gas flushed, it is likely to have an additive. 

“I don’t do any of that. One of the greatest assets is my meat carrier. I have known him for over 20 years. He delivers three times a week. We are called Superior Meats for a reason. I want to be seen as the highest quality butcher on the South Coast. We have grass-finished beef and lamb, free range pork and chicken, a Wagyu range finished on grain to get that marble effect. It is a talking point. 

“The meat carrier tells me about the product, where it’s from, why he picked it. If I didn’t have him I would be working a lot harder to pick top quality.”

Another point of difference is the individualised service Tina offers. She knows her customers by name. “I have a good team who can also cook, so they also pass on their knowledge. I believe in being part of a community, not just with the businesses that supply me, but with the customers. There are a lot of young families around here. 

“The people who shop with me are people whose parents also supported local businesses. They are the majority.” 

Social media is a big part of the Superior Meats business. And Tina’s passion is to teach a younger generation to also support local businesses. 

“By supporting one business, you are supporting an entire ecosystem of small businesses. 

“I am equally passionate about teaching a younger generation to cook. We target the 18-23 year old demographic. We tell them it is easier to cook a steak than drive through a McDonald’s takeaway. We want to change their mindset.”

To that aim, Tina is planning to put out a book of some of her customer’s favourite recipes. 

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