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Stewart's Meat Market

Serving the local community for more than 85 years

Butch and Jeanne Carlson stand in front of the meat counter at Stewart’s Meat Market, a local institution for more than 85 years. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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As a member of a military family, you always hope to discover the places where the locals shop when you move to a new location. The mom-and-pop businesses that people have been going to for years, and in some cases generations, go a long way in making you feel like part of the community.  Stewart's Meat Market in Yelm is just such a place.

This local institution began back in 1929, and founder Emmett Stewart could often be seen driving the country roads in his model-T pickup making deliveries. He established a tradition of quality meats and good customer service that carries over to this day. In 1934, his daughter Dorothy joined the family business and was renowned locally for her specialty sausages.  Her secret family recipes are still used by her son Butch Carlson and his wife Jeanne to make sausages for the market.

The business is quite the family affair.

"My husband Butch has been involved pretty much since he was born," Jeanne said. "We have been married for forty years, and our children contribute to the family business. Our grandchildren are now beginning to work for us, making five generations who have worked at Stewart's Meat Market."

One of the specials Stewart's offers is called "Locker Meat." It is custom-cut beef that you purchase by the pound, with a minimum purchase of a quarter of a cow (approximately 175 pounds). You have the choice between grain- or grass-fed. All of the locker meat beef is USDA inspected premium beef from Stewart's own herd of cattle, which is free of hormones and antibiotics. Each order is custom cut, wrapped and frozen. Prices range from $3.59 to $3.89 per pound, which is very reasonably priced for grass-fed beef. Stewart's herd of cattle is managed by the Carlson's son Brian.

"All the pork sold at the market comes from one local farmer," Jeanne added.

The Carlsons are a patriotic family. Son Brian, daughter Deborah and son-in-law Joe Tirey are all veterans. Stewart's Meat Market does not offer a military discount, but Butch is very generous to military units planning family and unit events. For example, he works to provide a good price on things like luau pigs.

Insider tips: For your first visit to Stewart's, plan to go in the morning on a weekday when it is less crowded and the staff has more time to answer your questions. On the weekends, it is packed.  Before going into the market, peruse the colorful signs outside, which list current specials. Once inside, make sure to grab a number from the red ticket dispenser. The market has thick-cut bacon, which has much less fat than those sold at grocery stores. They also make their own sausages and jerky. In addition to meat, they also have a small selection of local products.

Stewart's Meat Market, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 7821 WA-507, Yelm, 360.458.2091,

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