Bobby Ward chose to be a butcher over a career in law enforcement. J and B Butcher Shop has been in the heart of down town Stoneham for four years this coming April. Bobby took a few minutes to talk to Stoneham Patch about the finer chops and job he loves.
SP: How did you get into this line of work?
BW: Been doing it for 20 years, grew up in Windham, NH. Neighbors owned a butcher shop in Windham and I was 18 and I was going to college and they were looking for part time help, started working there. I went to school for criminal justice and graduated and was still working there. I have a lot of friends and relatives that are in law enforcement and they complain a lot about how they hate their jobs so before you know it, 8 years had passed and there was nowhere higher to go. I said “Maybe I’ll open my own place.” My older brother went to school for business and ran a power equipment place and he said “I’m kinda sick of my job, I’ll do it with you.”
So then we started planning it out and a year to the day of that decision we opened a shop in Hampstead, NH about 9 years ago. About three years later, my younger brother started working there part time while he was in college and he finished up school and started working there full time. About three years later, he and I opened a shop in Tewksbury, MA. A few years later, I ended up selling my half to each of them and opened up here.
SP: How did you end up in Stoneham?
BW: I looked in every town in New Hampshire and Mass. New Hampshire is over flooded with butcher shops. I live up in New Hampshire, but every town has at least one shop. There’s two in Hampstead, and that’s like a quarter, maybe even a third the size of Stoneham. I would have liked to have stayed in New Hampshire, but I started looking around and came across this and did the numbers and found there was nothing around here so I moved here.
SP: What’s the difference between a butcher shop like this and, say, Stop and Shop?
BW: A lot of supermarkets, the quality they carry isn’t as high. They are going for price, so they’re buying a lower quality. We buy higher quality, which means it costs a little more. But like anything, you get what you pay for. People want a good piece a steak, they don’t mind paying for it as long as it’s good. The biggest seller is the marinated meats like the steak tips.
SP: I saw that you guys have a special, you sell 20 percent off when the Pats win?
BW: I’ve been doing that for nine years, since my days in New Hampshire. Our busiest time is Labor Day to Memorial Day, so then it quiets down after that. So we came up with that idea about 9 years ago. To get people in after the game.
SP: So this is a pretty cool line of work here…
BW: It is. I enjoy it and I figured I might as well do what I enjoy. A lot of people work jobs they don’t really enjoy, and they hate going to work. I look forward to going to work everyday.