July 23, 2011

Sign of the Times: Drewes Bros.

"Don't let Drewes Bros. become just another nail salon!"

The campaign to save Drewes Bros. Meats on Church St. has resurfaced - this time in the form of a handwritten sign in the front window of the "oldest operating butcher shop in California."

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

We must save Drew's! They have organic and local meat products just like whole foods without the wait and corporate feel, but with hip personality and real customer care. These guys are a true butcher shop, will cut whatever you what right on the spot. A variety of shops gives our neighborhood its character.

Anonymous said...

Dear Drewes,

Let me start by saying that I am a customer. In fact, I just bought about $30 worth of meat this morning for a BBQ. In the four years I have shopped in your shop, I have never had a bad experience and I love that we have a local butcher and one with such history attached to the building.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me just say that this sign is pathetic. I'm a marketer with an MBA and 20 years of professional experience. This sign reeks of desperation. Rather than advertise your great products/services, you seem to be advertising the fact that you are on the brink of bankruptcy.

My (unsolicited) advice: think about your product more holistically. It's not just the service and the stuff in the cases. It's also your store, your signage, your image, your merchandising. In other words, think about the entire customer experience. This is where you have a majorly untapped opportunity.

Frankly, Drewes feels like it's stuck in 1985. The signage is dated, but not in the good vintage kind of way. The kitschy curtains, the hand scribbled signs, the funky astroturf display in the window... These things don't exactly scream "organic" or "quality".

Who is doing this stuff well? Avedano's in Bernal is knocking the ball out of the park. There's an attention to detail there that makes me want to shop there. They look like they've been in the neighborhood for over 100 years (even though it's only been four). They offer butchery classes (something that even Whole Foods can't claim). They have a blog, they're on facebook, they show an eagerness to connect to their customers. They just announced a meat truck that will extend their brand into Hayes Valley's Proxy development.

By contrast, Drewes has a notary and fax services. (If you added VHS movie rentals or beeper repair to that list, then we'd really hit the trifecta on totally outdated and orthogonal offerings...)

Just look at what a new sign has done for another business that's been around since the 1800s (http://bernalwood.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/in-praise-of-the-new-old-clam-house-on-bayshore/). Major win. That sign alone makes me want to go inside the "new" old clam house...

Here's my advice: Put a big BBQ grill or smoker on the sidewalk every Saturday or Sunday. (Get our attention!)

Kill your fax machine and put in an espresso machine. (You could serve Ritual Roasters and you'd have better coffee than Martha's or XO... Look at the lines for the tiny Blue Bottle kiosk in the laundry mat on Sanchez.)

Update your signage. Get rid of the tacky and unprofessional handwritten signs. Get rid of the giant signs telling people that you won't give them change. (It's rude.)

Offer some butchery classes. Have some of your suppliers come give talks about their product. (Again, look at how the culinary book shop has been killing it by pulling in authors.)

Think about hiring an interior designer--it is cheaper than you think--to give you some affordable recommendations for the place. Some of them read this blog and maybe someone would do some pro-bono concepts. Embrace the history of the place and make it look/feel like an institution. Right now you expect us to take your word for it.

Embrace the fact that there's a foodie revolution taking place. People are more willing than ever to pay more for the right stuff.

In summary, we really do want you to make it. I'm pulling for you and I hate nail salons. But only YOU have the power to prevent that next nail salon from taking over, not us... And that rinky dink sign in your window just shows me that you're not really trying.

Sincerely,
One of your loyal customers

Anonymous said...

The post about the Marketing stuff above really nailed it! There is a huge difference between being "historic" and being "outdated" and this place is just outdated. There's a bunch of crap nobody wants to buy scattered all over the place, it often smells, and the meat/fish cases do not look appetizing. Compare that to a Whole Foods and Whole Foods wins every time - friendly service, beautifully presented meat/fish cases, and no smell.

I live in Noe and love the idea of a "local" butcher shop, but the few times I've shopped here have left me wanting MORE!

In all my visits here I have never felt a more "personal experience" than I can get at Whole Foods. In fact, on one occasion, the person helping me chatted the entire time on their cell phone while periodically whispering over to me as I tried to explain what I wanted to order. That immediately turned me off and I probably won't ever come back.

Frankly, this shop doesn't offer me anything I can't get at Whole Foods. Everyone always talks about how "they'll cut it however you want" or "teach you about the cuts", but WF's does that too. I've never had an issue when asking a butcher at WF's to get me something specific or teach me about the difference between different cuts of beef. Just because WF's is "corporate" doesn't mean they don't offer a quality service to their customers. Not all big business is bad!

It's unfortunate, but Drewe's value proposition is severely lacking. So unless they take the advice of the previous post, they will likely go out of business.

Anonymous said...

Wow, great advice, I especially love the idea of classes, many people don't really understand where the various cuts of meat come from, and how to cut/cook to best advantage. I hope Drewe's consider some of those ideas.

Tracy said...

Yeah, you can get everything at Whole Foods. Then every small supplier goes out of business and your left with only Whole Foods. Then Whole Foods starts to cut back on things, because they're expensive. And there isn't any competition anymore. And profit is what really matters.

Anonymous said...

Great marketing advice. It all makes sense, but in my opinion, Drewes will not listen. They don't get it. They don't understand what it takes to build a customer base and court new customers.

Drewes is sadly complacent, and out of touch. Sadly, I don't think they will make it, as much as I wish they would.

Anonymous said...

Wow - the idea of a butchery class is intriguing and I would be very interested in that. Also, I think offering coffee instead of fax services is practical and easy to implement. I'm currently unemployed and cannot afford the meats at either Whole Foods OR Drewes. There are those of us who are still having a difficult time keeping a job in this economy while trying to remain in this neighborhood. If they would offer One Day Only discount deals once a week, it would encourage me to shop there on those days and actually treat myself to something of high quality and it would become more of a regular habit for me to shop there. Right now, I go all the way up to Safeway to shop since it's the best way for me to shop frugally.

Anonymous said...

As much as I would like to have Drewes succeed, I don't see any efforts to update their store, their products or their service. The last time (and I mean last), I was treated so rudely. I was asking questions about the type of meat to purchase for a particular dish I was cooking. It felt like it was such an imposition on the butcher to answer my questions. Plus the fact that he answered his cell phone twice will engaging with me. While I don't want to see a nail salon here, I would like to see Drewes get their act together or sell to another butcher.

Anonymous said...

Wow, some great stuff here! Actually I remember when, for a time, Drewes did have vids for rent.

Anonymous said...

Here's one problem people: All the comments are great regarding the future of Drewes and what they could do to survive.

Prob is: I doubt if anyone part of Drewes even reads a blog of any kind.

I mean, seriously if they offer fax services, what does that tell you about their future?

Anonymous said...

Somebody should print out comment #2 and slide it under Drewes' door; I also doubt they read blogs. Or know what the Internet is.

I've had some good experiences there and some of the same cell phone interruptions people describe. I cannot understand why answering your cell phone should take priority over a live customer in front of you.

Anyway, I hope Drewes survives, but they need to make some changes for that to happen.

8>} said...

If you guys have so many ideas then why don't you e-mail them directly to Drewes. I am sure they will like to read this thread. They are at:

cece@drewesbros.com

8>}

Bethany said...

My family and I love Drewes. We'd much rather shop there than WF. We shop there almost every weekend for the week's dinners. If we need something to bbq on the weekend, we run to Drewes. My 3 year old daughter loves the basket of goldfish crackers right at her level. I will be so sad if they close, but I agree with everything said here. They are outdated and aside from that sad little sign, they don't seem willing to put any effort into improving the store. :-(

Anonymous said...

I hope Drewes does read this thread, and I hope they get more out of it that they need to spend a bunch of money they don't have to improve the store.

Here are some ideas that just about free: Smile, paint/sweep, put your phones away, take a tour of the competition and see what you can use in your own shop.

In a word? Try.

Don't just put out a periodic plea to "save Drewes."

Anonymous said...

OH, so not one person at Drewes is capable or interested in reading the comments here?

We have to email them our comments?

No wonder they're out of touch and failing.

Anonymous said...

I was in the store last week and waited for at least 5 minutes for the guy to get off of his cell phone. I finally gave up and walked out. Some basic customer service training would be a good start.

Anonymous said...

Good bye Drewes! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting. The marketing advice is spot on. I don't shop at Drewes because it does seem outdated. I would if they did what was suggested. It would be sad to see them close but they need to update and change with the times.

Anonymous said...

You know I think we're all cheering for Drewes to make some changes and grow with the future, but as of yet no one from Drewes appears to have read or responded to the many comments.

Where are you Drewes?

Anonymous said...

Drewes prefers the Noe Valley Voice. Pen them a letter to the editor, old school.

Anonymous said...

Drewes, please step it up and save yourselves! The days of the "charming" surly butcher are over. As a resident of this neighborhood and a supporter of small local businesses, I have tried to patronize Drewes on numerous occasions. Customer service is lacking, the butchers seem like your presence is an interruption to their day and are generally not helpful. Meanwhile the butchers at Whole Foods are the opposite, friendly, interested in helping with information and ready to order or direct you to any items they don't have on hand. Even so, I would rather give my money to you Drewes, if only you would make some Of the improvements suggested above.

Anonymous said...

Commenter #2 just gave Drewes $35-$50K worth of free ideas had they hired a marketing firm.

yuenkay said...

Even better, they need to just visit Fatted Calf in Hayes Valley to see what a modern, foodie-magnet meat store should look/feel like.

Anonymous said...

Yay, commenter #2. Some great ideas. I love the idea of Drewes, but end up at Prather Ranch at the farmers market when I can, or WF as a backup. I've had a couple of less than stellar Drewes experiences, and they don't make up for it in any other way than just being "local". If they did what commenter #2 said, I'd go there more often. I even go to Fatted Calf on occasion - as the prior commenter said, very foodie-magnet.

realitybroker said...

I'm so pleased to read this stuff -- I thought everyone was going to jump to their defense! I'm grossed out by Drewes. I think they're sloppy. The place smells. But most worryingly, on a number of occasions I've had my raw meat -- including chicken -- handled and then my money handed back to me with the same hands, unwashed. Even when they used gloves, they just handled my meat and the money with the gloves. I literally went home and washed the money. The first time it happened, I asked whether they guy had washed his hands before handling my money, and he said, "I think you're making a big deal out of nothing." Are they that ignorant about all the news stories about salmonella? Even Diestel was written up as a "top 5 worst offender" for the amount of salmonella in its flocks. You have to treat raw meat with some biohazard respect these days. I just feel like the place is sloppy sloppy sloppy. And full of grumps.

Anonymous said...

given the sign, they should close up the meat business and start doing nails.
captialism and running a business is risky. evolve and thrive, or close.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic suggestions.

I shop at tons of local stores, I love Avedanos and Guerras and BuyRite. I want to like Drewes, but it's simply not all that great. The meat is ok, not great. The service is ok, not great. The store itself doesn't have the couple extra things I might want to save another stop. And the prices aren't very competitive.

There are tons of alternatives, it's not a choice between a big store and a little guy. It's a choice between all kinds of alternatives and one little shop that isn't really doing anything in particular that's very impressive. I would love to be a loyal customer, and have tried, but other than the butchery themed cartoons on the cash register (how much for the kid?), there's not much that makes me smile about Drewes.

Anonymous said...

I love how everyone here is all "they should do this, they should do that." Yes, Drewe's would benefit from a remodel, new signage, a blog, a food truck. Yes, they could offer butchery classes. I hope they do some of these things, because I want a good local butcher rather than having to make that rich, "Obamacare is evil" op-ed writing Whole Foods clown even richer. But I think my neighbors in Noe Valley would do well to remember that all these things aren't necessarily cheap, and maybe have a little patience with the guys at Drewe's. (Whom I find perfectly friendly, btw. And I too have 20 years experience in marketing!)

Anonymous said...

As opposed to "HealthySF is Evil" which is pretty much every small business in SF.