AKRON, Ohio — The message we’ve heard time and time again throughout this pandemic is to shop at and support local businesses as many are struggling to keep their doors open.
The Farmer’s Rail, a popular butcher shop in Akron, saw its success reach new heights in 2020 and they’re using that to give other entrepreneurs a platform while still nourishing their community.
The parking lot outside The Farmer's Rail is never empty for long.
“Everything's fresh. Get stuff that we can't get at other places,” Steve Bock, a customer of The Farmer's Rail, said. “Every time we get burgers we come all the way from Wadsworth to get stuff here, best stuff around.”
People flock to the artisanal meats and butcher shop for some of the best protein money can buy.
“Strip steak, filet, short ribs, fish, seafood oysters—you name it, I bought it all!” said customer Lynn Shaw.
Melanie Brunty owns the shop with her husband Jeff. He started Brunty Farms as a hobby when he was 13, and after they got married years later, they stuck with it and started farming together in Bath Township.
“Raised our products, sold at local farmers markets. We ran a CSA and just really built this customer base,” Brunty said.
Ten years into that endeavor, they decided to open The Farmer's Rail.
“We wanted to sell all our meats fresh. Offer a place for people to shop local year-round,” Brunty said.
All of their livestock is raised locally in Ashland County and they sell fresh seafood six days a week.
“A friend told me they have great fresh natural meat and other products so, sparked my interest, came in and love everything I get here,” said customer Rachel Gavrilovic.
Brunty said word of mouth is how they keep new customers coming in and that customer base grew even larger during the pandemic.
“2020 was our craziest and best year we've ever had as a business. We worked really hard to have a constant supply of meat and product for people,” Brunty said. “We're making decisions that we never expected as a business to take on. But we have an incredible team that handled it flawlessly.”
That boost in traffic was not only great for The Farmer’s Rail, but also for the owners of the locally-made products they carry, from baked goods to coffee, cheeses and snacks.
Almost all of them are made by people the Bruntys have supported and been supported by over the years.
“It was so awesome during COVID we had some vendors that we were basically taking everything that they could make at the moment,” Brunty said. “Our customer base has grown exponentially over the last year, and that has in turn helped keep so many dollars local in the community with every other vendor that we have in the store.”
And the success story doesn’t stop there.
The Bruntys have plans to open two more locations in 2021 in Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls.
It's a dream come true for this family of farmers.
“You kind of have to pinch yourself sometimes and realize that what we're doing is real and helping so many people and providing amazing food to northeast Ohio,” Brunty said.
The Farmer’s Rail is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The shop also offers a curbside pick-up option. More information can be found on its website.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.