Guest blogger: In recognition of this year’s 55th Anniversary of the Schinkels’ Meat Market, I thought I’d highlight a little bit of history and some thoughts on our success in Essex. Greg wrote an article many years ago for the 40th anniversary. Luckily, the nice thing about a history article is that it doesn’t change much in 15 years. If you are interested in reading it in it’s entirety, you can find it here.

1962 – New Owners

October 1, 1962, Gerry Schinkel (27) and his younger brother Herman (25)
opened the doors to a new direction in their lives by
purchasing Robert’s Meat Market.
The brothers had plenty of experience in the meat business,
having worked in slaughterhouses and meat stores in Amherstburg
and in the city market.

At the time, Gerry and Herman had been working for a butcher at the city market.
“We worked very hard for little money,”
recalls Herman, “and we did most of the work ourselves.”
For this reason, they were looking to go into business for themselves.
They looked for a place closer to Windsor but could never seem to find the right place for the right price.
Then they heard that the Robert’s Meat Market was for sale.
Buying an existing business with an established customer base definitely had its advantages.
But the brothers were warned by family and friends not to do it.
“Butcher shops are on the way out,”
they were told.
“Supermarkets are the future.”
But the brothers already knew they could work hard and
were confident in their many years of experience.

Buying an Established Butcher Shop

The retiring Robert brothers were asking $13,000 for the business
their father started 50 years earlier.
The Schinkel brothers were both newly-weds with little cash,
but very eager to take over the business.
They settled on paying the Roberts $14,000,
with a smaller down payment and were financed through the Roberts.

Old-Style Charm?

What was that store like when they bought it?
Gerry says,” It was small and confined.”
The ceiling was the old metal style that was quite common to
many stores in town at that time.
For lighting, there were 4 light bulbs hanging from the ceiling.
To turn the lights on, you had to reach up to each one and switch them on,
and one of them always gave you a shock.

There was a 12′ refrigerated display counter (compared to 62′ today)
and an 8′ display freezer (24′ today).
There was not much room in the front of the store for customers.
In the back of the store the meat blocks were old
tree stumps the Roberts had cut from a bush and put legs on.

They used lots of sawdust on the floor to absorb the blood
and fat drippings and to keep the floor clean.
There was an old wood stove in the back,
which was the only source of heat.
A pile of wood behind the store, mostly old pop bottle crates,
was there to keep the stove going.
The employees used to work with their hats and coats on to
keep warm in the colder months.

Need to Modernize

Gerry and Herman felt the need to modernize the fifty year old butcher shop,
and this was done immediately.
A furnace was installed before the first winter.
Racks in the front of the store that were used to display sides of beef were quickly removed,
they had not been used in years.
The lighting was replaced as well.
Schinkels’ Meat Market was the first store in Essex to use the new fluorescent lighting.
The difference was tremendous.
The store looked much brighter and more modern and 
At night the store was very noticeable from the street with the extra lighting.
Many commented on the new look and many compliments were given to the new owners.
Business was not halted during the renovations.


Holiday Greeting from the Essex Free Press Left to Right: Tina Schinkel, Rich Taylor, John Triemstra, Alice Stam, Rick Valanchuch, Janet Van Kempen, Peter Van Kempen, Herman Schinkel, Ruth Schinkel, Bob Batten, Gerry Schinkel, and Joe Mykytiuk

Gerry and Herman’s parents had owned a small
grocery store in their native Holland before immigrating to Canada.
Many of their sons, daughters and grandchildren have become successful entrepreneurs.
This spirit continued to grow in the Schinkel family.
Watching the hard work put into the tiny family store
in Utrecht before and during World War II taught the
brothers the work ethics and values needed to run a successful business in Essex.




When businesses hit milestone anniversaries,
people often ask,”To what do you attribute your success?”
That is not always an easy question to answer,
but one thing I can say for sure is that there is not one single item
I can credit to the success of our family business.

There are many little accomplishments
we have been proud of over the last 40 (55) years.
Some would say that being in business for that long
is a great accomplishment in itself,
but I would say that just surviving 40 (55) years
is not much of an achievement.

Success is having enough

Through all the years, I have lived in a nice home,
had nice clothes on my back, and have been provided for quite nicely.
Mom and Dad didn’t have a summer house in Florida or a cottage up north,
nor will they retire wealthy,
but I don’t think that was the goal they had in mind when they started out in 1962.
They wanted a job that they enjoyed and
the ability to provide for their family.
Not only have the Schinkel families been provided for,
but many other families as well.

This is success.


Success is helping others achieve

Many of the staff earned their way through college
and university while working in our store,
and many have come back and told us how much they loved working in our store.
Our staff turnover rate has always been low and
I feel that reflects on how we have treated them as employees and people.

This is success.

Success is making a difference

My father was elected to town council a number of times and twice as major.
The reputation he earned as a businessman helped him to get elected.
As well, his time in politics helped the Schinkel name be even more recognized.

This is success.

Success is caring about our customers

We see our regular customers often enough that we remember many of their names.
This is an incredible task, but we keep trying.
Many of our customers take the time to come to our store from all over Windsor and Essex County.
Many have moved away from the area and when they are back visiting,
take the time to come and buy our products and
bring it home with them to Toronto, Kitchener,
Grand Bend, Ottawa, etc.

This is success.

Greg, when he started working full time.

Success is being trusted

Many people trust us to be honest and fair.
A number of wholesale accounts do not check the weights
of products we ship because
the Schinkel name is trusted.

This is success.

Success is standing for what you believe

My parents brought me to church,
told me about Jesus,
taught me to read my Bible
and live by its teachings.
I believe that when God said we
“should not work on the Sabbath day,
neither us nor our manservants or maidservants”,
that it is also applied to today.
Even though I could earn more money by being open on Sunday,
I will not sacrifice my faith.

This is success.

Schinkels’ has been successful

Success can be measured in different ways.
Some like to measure success by the house you live in and the car you drive.
These are not the true measures of success.

I am very proud of my father and mother’s accomplishments
and the opportunities they have provided for me.
I am very proud of the staff we have had over the years
and the dedication they have shown.
I am very proud of the products we provide our customers
and proud of the community in which we serve.
These intangible items I have listed are
the true measure of success.

I wish to thank the many
customers we have had over the years for our family’s successes.
For success in business is really measured by
the customers that patron that business.
I hope to make you proud to have a business like ours in our community.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Greg Schinkel