MEREDITH — "I feel bad for our good, loyal, steady customers," said Barry Ladd, who yesterday confirmed that he was closing the Meredith Center Store to retail trade. Ladd said he will continue to butcher animals, domestic and wild, by appointment, but shutter the remainder of the business he has owned and operated for past 17 years.
"There are so many more stores in the area," Ladd said of the mounting competition, "and every year I end up putting more and more money into the store just to keep it going." He said that expenses, particularly utilities and insurances, rise every year and there is a growing burden of regulation and paperwork. "It's not a good business climate for the small business person," he remarked.
"I've reached retirement age,"Ladd continued. He said neither his son, a college student, nor his son-in-law was interested in carrying on the business. "I hated to do it," he said, "but I couldn't keep it going myself."
Ladd recalled that the store first opened in the 1920s. After working as a butcher at Walter's Market in Laconia for 14 years, he acquired the store from Joe and Cynthia Pelczar in 1997.
With half-a-century of experience in the meat business, Ladd featured a wide array of select cuts along with freshly made sausage, corned beef and jerky, winning accolades from his customers. "We became a specialty store with the butcher shop and delicatessen," Ladd remarked.
Noting that a number of traditional country stores have closed, Ladd said that he heard regularly from vendors that the small stores they served in rural communities were struggling to make reasonable returns on the investment of time and money required of their owners.
"I'll miss it, " Ladd said. "I'll miss the people coming in. But, I'll also enjoy my retirement."
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