A cut above: Butcher has enjoyed serving customersWhen he started working part-time as a meat cutter during his high school years, little did Bob Olien know that the job would become a lifelong career.
By: Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
When he started working part-time as a meat cutter during his high school years, little did Bob Olien know that the job would become a lifelong career.
But a special retirement party and open house is planned for Thursday, April 15, to celebrate Olien’s many years as a butcher in New Richmond. Former and current customers are invited to take part in the celebration.
“It’s been a good living,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed working with the people.”
Olien’s retail meat cutting experience began in 1967 when he took a job at a local grocery store. Owner Al Larson gave the high-school-aged Olien a few pointers about cutting meat and a passion for serving customers was born.
After graduation, Olien headed to Rice Lake Vocational School where he hoped to pursue a two-year degree in mechanical drafting.
“But I really couldn’t see myself doing that for a living,” he admitted.
He took a job at a Rice Lake retailer instead and worked there from 1971-76 as a butcher and salesman.
“Meat cutting just kind of got into my blood, I guess,” Olien said.
In 1976, Olien was hired by Erickson Diversified to come to work in their New Richmond store. In 1999, Nash Finch purchased the Erickson’s store and converted it into Econofoods. The name was changed to Family Fresh Market in 2009.
Olien has been part of the store’s history during his long tenure.
“It’s satisfying when you build the trust with customers over the years,” Olien said. “It’s been great to help people out with their Easter dinners and other special occasions.”
Olien said it’s been interesting to watch the meat business change back to fresh cuts and customer service, which is the way butchers operated years ago.
A few years back, the meat industry shifted toward pre-packaged sales and the personal touch was lost.
Now, with Family Fresh’s extensive meat counter, people can choose what they want and how much they want.
“It’s kind of come full circle for me,” he said. “The concept has caught on great. People love it.”
Now that Olien is hanging up his butcher knife, he’s looking forward to spending more time golfing, fishing and traveling with his wife of 40 years, Linda.
“I’m going to take time to do some things I haven’t been able to do over the years,” he said. “When you work in this business, you end up working a lot of weekends. Now I’ll have more free time.”
Olien also admits that his “honey-do” list is growing by the hour, so he’ll have time to finish up a few project at home in his free time.
“My wife’s already started the list,” he said with a laugh. “That goes with the territory.”
Thursday’s open house will include cake and coffee in honor of Olien.