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Woudstra’s meat market big on beef

By Staff | May 3, 2015


ORANGE CITY – Amy Vanden Hull’s college job, working for Woudstra’s Meat Market, turned into a career when she and husband Dustin Vanden Hull bought the butcher shop and store three years ago.

Vanden Hull runs Woudstra’s in Orange City, drawing on longtime employees, plus family members, to work with her.

“My family butchered on the farm, so it’s just something I grew up on,” said Vanden Hull.

While the market sells various cuts of pork, beef and chicken, with sausage and “made here” bratwurst, cold cuts and antibiotic-free chickens, beef is its boast.

It’s always beef month at Woudstra’s, going back 89 years.

Woudstra’s Meat Market was founded in Orange City in 1926 by James and Hattie Woudstra. That store was “just a little bit south of here on Central Avenue,” said Al Woudstra, 84, the son of the meat market’s founders.

After wintering in Arizona a few years, working part-time at a butcher shop there, Woudstra returned to Orange City and now works three mornings a week at his family’s namesake market.

Woudstra is still a master of his trade, advising customers, easily cutting or slicing meat, placing it on the scale, wrapping bundles and ringing them up, all in a relaxed, seamless ballet of efficiency and cheerful service.

“In the early 1940s, we cut all our meat by hand,” Woudstra recalled.

He had partnered with his brother, Lee, in the 1940s, taking over the business from their parents.

Woudstra’s colorful, festive retail area, stocked with a variety of food, chocolates and other goods from Holland and the local area, complements the butcher counter and meat freezers.

The space behind the store front holds the commercial meat cooler, a slaughter area, and a stainless steel work table where several employees cut and grind meat.

Woudstra’s slaughters and butchers cattle for local families that raise a few head of beef for their own consumption, Vanden Hull said.

Chad Borchers, Vanden Hull’s brother, said area feed lots bring injured cattle to be butchered, so the meat is not wasted.

Last year, Woudstra’s butchered 222 beef cattle, Borchers said, after consulting the records.

Recently, the Vanden Hulls became a family, with the birth of their first child, a daughter.

It’s way too soon to know, Amy Vanden Hull said, but her daughter may mark the start of another generation that feels called to assure Orange City’s signature meat market stays open well into the future.

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