Boggabri Meats: Ninety days to pay its way

Another chance: Boggabri Meats manager Paul Higgins with Roger Hollingworth from Boggabri Lions.

Another chance: Boggabri Meats manager Paul Higgins with Roger Hollingworth from Boggabri Lions.

Boggabri’s butcher has been given an 11th hour reprieve by two locals concerned about the future of the town.

New Boggabri Meats manager Paul Higgins – who worked at the butcher’s under its previous ownership – said the men, who wanted to remain anonymous, had set an ultimatum the store had to make a profit within 90 days.

Closed: Battler’s Coffee Bar in Boggabri has shut shop.

Closed: Battler’s Coffee Bar in Boggabri has shut shop.

Boggabri Meats and the nearby Battler’s Cafe were both set to close last week due to lack of customers, despite thriving activity at the nearby mines.

Battler’s Cafe, run by Leah and Matthew Faulkner, has given up the battle.

But the butcher’s was doing brisk business yesterday as news filtered around town it was still open.

“These guys are guardian angels,” Mr Higgins said of the butcher’s new owners.

“If they didn’t come to the rescue, she’d be shut today.

“It takes a bit of pressure off the older people. A lot of them can’t drive.

“I believe this is going to work. My main concern is: are people going to support it?”

Mr Higgins said once people went to a Gunnedah supermarket for their meat, they were likely to buy all the rest of their needs there as well.

Boggabri has been without a butcher once before and, according to Boggabri Business Promotion Association president John Shaw, a second closure would have a domino effect on other businesses in town.

Local businesses have sent around a flyer to Boggabri people urging them to spend locally to ensure their businesses are here to stay.

A relieved member of Boggabri Lions, Roger Hollingworth, was among those lining up for a meat order at Boggabri Meats yesterday.

Mr Hollingworth said Lions held regular barbecues for staff at Boggabri Coal, feeding about 500 people at shift changes.

“This is great,” he said. “We were very concerned, we didn’t know where we were going to go.”

Mr Hollingworth said the size of their meat order for the barbecues would mean bringing eight big Eskies full of meat back from Gunnedah in a ute, and the meat would need to be stored somewhere until early the next day.

He said the organisation had been forced to consider buying its own coldroom for the purpose.

“The reopening of the butcher shop is a godsend to us,” he said.

Mr Hollingworth said the butcher’s shop was also a key player in the very popular Boggabri Drover’s Campfire event.

One of the “guardian angels” who asked not to be named said yesterday the idea to save the butcher’s shop had seemed a good one over a beer or two.

“It was closed for a long time the first time,” he said.

“Then, when the grocery store shut, it really put a dampener on the town.”

He said the re-opening of Boggabri Meats by Justin Hall and Lea Baldwin in 2013 had come at a great time when the mines were expanding.

“Now that’s gone, it’s going to be a challenge to get it back to a level where it looks after itself and the local people,” he said.

He said the store would source as much local meat as possible and was likely to have two full-time butchers and local casuals.

The new owner said he and his mate had decided to take over the butcher’s largely to help out the elderly and young mums in the town who found it difficult to travel for their shopping.

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