After nearly a century, Orange City meat market going strong

After nearly a century, Orange City meat market going strong
After nearly a century, Orange City meat market going strong(MGN)
Published: Jan. 15, 2023 at 11:12 AM CST
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ORANGE CITY, Iowa (AP) — Woudstra Meat Market, an iconic and longstanding establishment in Orange City, has undergone a significant expansion in the last couple years under new ownership. And the owners still have big things they want to get done.

In 2021, the Hooglands and Posts -- husbands and wives Junior and Kim Hoogland and Steve and Vonda Post -- took over the nearly century-old Woudstra Meat Market, 117 Central Ave. NE, a retailer of specialty meats, cheeses, sweets, wines, utensils, décor, Dutch items and hot lunches.

The Sioux City Journal reports that soon after they acquired Woudstra, the Hooglands and Posts began construction on a new meat locker plant south of Orange City, called Highland Post. It was completed in the spring of last year. They’re hoping to get USDA approval to sell meats processed at their locker directly to consumers at the downtown Orange City store.

And last year, they took over a neighboring storefront on Orange City’s Central Avenue, which gave them roughly 1/3 more floor space then they had before.

The butchering had formerly taken place at the downtown store, but that part of the shop was getting old and wasn’t very spacious, and it didn’t meet USDA standards. What’s more, hauling livestock to be processed in downtown Orange City wasn’t very convenient for anyone, Kim Hoogland said.

“The farmers had been bringing their trailers into a shared alleyway that also shares with a home décor store and a grocery store” she said. “So we had a lot of trucks coming in and out all the time, and it was just getting too congested and very tight.”

Meanwhile, on a broader scale, the capacity of the region’s meat lockers (independent, often specialty facilities that process smaller quantities of livestock, and sometimes game, brought there by individuals who take the meat directly for themselves) had come under strain in the last few years. So it seemed the demand was there for a larger, more modern facility.

“My husband and I are in the dairy and beef industry,” Kim Hoogland said. “And our partners are in the hog industry. And we were having a hard time getting our animals into places. And we’re like, ‘If we know our animals are getting hard to get into places, there’s a lot of other farmers that are struggling with that as well.’”

“A lot of your meat lockers were (booked) over a year out, and so if you had an emergency you ended up having to just put that animal down because there was nobody who could process it for you,” she added.

The new meat locker can process “about double” what the downtown butcher shop was capable of -- they’re currently processing about 12 head of livestock a week, with hopes to process as many as 24 per week. Their coolers can accommodate about 70 carcasses. The locker also includes a retail space.

Because Highland Post is not yet “official,” as Kim Hoogland put it -- meaning USDA approved -- meat processed there cannot yet be sold at the retail level. They’re in the process of attaining that status, and they’re hoping that’ll come “within the year.”

For the time being, the meats sold at the Woudstra store come via a USDA-approved supplier. “Which is another reason we want to become official, because then we can do that with our own, local meat instead,” Kim Hoogland said.

About a year ago, the Radio Shack adjoining Woudstra Meat Market on Central Avenue -- which had a Dutch façade that rather closely resembled Woudstra’s own -- went out of business.

It was a sensible move, so the Hooglands and Posts took over the storefront on Feb. 1 of last year and knocked out part of a wall that had separated the two stores.

“We expanded a lot of our gift items, a lot of our Dutch items,” Kim Hoogland said. “And we also added a couple consignment apparel lines.”

Woudstra traces its heritage (and name) to 1926, when the Dutch immigrant Jelle (who went by James, or Jim) Woudstra bought a half-interest in an existing Orange City butcher shop. The store was operated for decades by the Woudstra family, notably by James’ sons Alfred “Al” Woudstra and Leroy “Lee” Woudstra.

Over the years, Woudstra developed a reputation for its quality products and quaint Dutch character, and what Hoogland described as a “nationwide” customer base.

“We have a lot of visitors from California, Washington, just kind of all over,” due in part to the nearby presence of Northwestern College and Dordt University, Kim Hoogland said. “A lot of people say, ‘We can’t come to this area without stopping in to Woudstra’s!’”

The Woudstra family sold the business in 1995. It subsequently changed hands among different families on several occasions, eventually ending up in the possession of the Hooglands and Posts.

With Woudstra’s centenary coming up in a few years, the Hooglands and Posts would like to renovate their buildings.

“We’re hoping, by then, to have the downtown (store) completely remodeled,” Kim Hoogland said. “And we’ll still have the meat counter and the cheese counter, but then we’d also like to add an eating establishment of some sort, so that we can become a true farm-to-table facility.”