Barrett's Smoke House
Tim and Lori Barrett, owners of Barrett's Smoke House, partnered with Treystar to find a larger space for their Kalamazoo location in 2014. In addition to relocating and expanding the growing butcher shop smokehouse, the move allowed Barrett's Smoke House to expand its visibility by joining one of the area's fastest growing intersections.
"Five years ago, my husband and I made a life-changing decision to go back to our family roots, Lori said. "Tim's grandfather owned several country store butcher shops so we decided to do a 180 in life and open up a new store. We thought we were going to open up a little, mom-and-pop butcher store that he and I could run, but that turned into a whole lot more with a lot of wonderful help from family, friends, and encouraging customers. So we started our first store in Portage on Shaver Road. It was a nice, small, little store that grew and the word of having smoked barbecue fanned out very fast.
"Then we kept growing and ended up with another store on the west side of Kalamazoo. That was a wonderful location, but as we grew we needed more indoor dining area so we started looking for a larger location for our second store and we ended up here.
True to their family roots, the Barrett's daughter-in-law, Emily Barrett, manages the University Commons location.
Treystar is Helpful
As a small, start-up, family business, working with Treystar has been very helpful, Lori said.
"We started working with Treystar in December when we were looking for a new, larger location for our West Main store. They were very helpful and showed us serval locations, but this one was the perfect spot for us, Lori said.
"This store gave us the space we were looking for to bring in the dining area along with our retail store and butcher shop. The location here on this corner has a lot of growth going on right now and a lot of traffic.
"Moving a location can be very challenging, she said. "Treystar was very helpful through the process of getting the store ready with all of the construction that we did.
"They really have helped us grow. Our new location has really been great for our business. We went from a 1,600 SF facility to a 7,000 SF facility. The extra space has allowed us to really grow. We really enjoy working with Treystar.
"Treystar has really been there the whole time, she said. "They knew that we would fit in this little niche. They came alongside us and pushed us to get in this spot.
"Any little question that we had or any problem that we had they were always there. They are always here with us and growing with us, Emily said.
Finding the right place for the butcher shop and feeling at home in their University Commons space has added value to Barrett's relationship with Treystar.
"This is my home, Emily said. "As a manager of this Barrett's Smoke House this is pretty much my home.
"Starting at the West Main location, I helped open that store. These customers, especially the ones that came with me to this Stadium location, they're family. They've helped us grow.
"When I come in everyday I don't really come to a job. I don't really come to a career. I come home.
"It's not just a family business to me; it's life. When you find where you belong you come in and you can't really describe it as a job.
A Lasting Relationship
The relationship that Barrett's Smoke House has with Treystar may have started on a business level, but it quickly became a personal connection as well.
"Ashley is the person that really stands out to me," Emily said. "Even if it was something she could do right there on a phone call you would turn around and she would be right there in the store saying, 'Did it get done? Is everything okay?' She could have answered it in a phone call - it would already have been done - and she would still come in and make sure that we didn't have an issue. She has outstanding customer service.
"We would work with Treystar again, she said. "They just have too good of customer service and they care too much about their customers to not want to work with a company like that.
Lori agreed, saying, "Treystar is very well known in this area. We would highly recommend them to other companies and would work with them again in the future.
"My favorite part of this location is when our customers walk in for the first time and just say, 'Wow. What a great space!' Lori said.
The additional space has allowed the smoke house to carry additional specialty items - most of which are Michigan-made - and expand its indoor seating section.
"One thing I love about this location is how large it is, Emily said, but the location itself is also a draw.
"My favorite feature of this location is the location. We are in a prime spot of Kalamazoo right now. It is the biggest growing spot in the area.
"We've got a brand new intersection, a brand new highway. Businesses, not just new ones, are growing in the area.
"I feel like it's a happy place. It's a good spot to be in. We feel good about this spot, Emily said.
Economic Impact of Barrett's Smoke House
"Not only are we a little family-owned business, Emily said, "but we are also local so we like to support local. We're small so we like to support small.
The family enjoys filling a niche not met by larger chain grocery stores.
Referring to each of their locations as part "little family butcher store" and part "specialty shop," Emily said their smoke houses are, "where you can go and say, 'Can I get this cut of meat?' or 'Where does this come from?'"
Emily said she's enjoyed watching the business grow into two prospering locations.
"I've watched it grow for the barn and (Tim's) own smoker from Father's Day to this. It is nice, she said.