KLIGORE, TX (KLTV) - It started with a small loan and two calves. Now the Clower Meat Market in Kilgore is celebrating 50 years in business.
Co-owner Carl Clower said Monday his maternal grandmother gave his parents $1,100, and his grandfather gave them two young calves to butcher and start the business.
He said his parents Truman and Bobbie Clower worked at the business six days a week, and that the business was always a priority. Clower also recalled working at the meat market as a child. He laughed as he explained there were no other options than to grow up in and stay in the family business.
A lot has changed since the Clowers first opened their doors in 1969.
“People that are the age of my children, they don’t know about coming to a meat market and buying meat. Ordering it to be cut specifically for however they want it. They’re used to picking it up in a little white package blister wrapped in the grocery store," Clower said. “I wonder where all the juice goes. Does it drain into that little diapery thing that’s on the bottom that’s underneath the piece of cut meat? We cut if off the cow here. When we say it’s fresh meat, it truly is. It comes in three times a week here.”
Clower Meat Market also sales smoked meats. Clower said his parents began selling smoked meats about 25 years ago, starting with summer sausage.
“It’s just as intense as far as the daily workload as working on the fresh meat side because it’s developed and kind of grown into part of the business. Sometimes I think if we didn’t have (smoked meats), we wouldn’t be here,” Clower said.
He believes the smoked meat side of the business is popular because people gravitate toward specialty items.
There were four other meat markets in town when Clower’s parents started the business. At the time, the market delivered meat to about 30 restaurants every week and to several family-owned grocery stores that had a fresh-meat case.
“Daddy cut meat for all of them, and we delivered it. It was an entirely different time. There were no Walmart or those kinds of stores even in town," Clower said.
But as time passed, those other meat markets closed, but Bobbie and Truman Clower persevered.
“He we are 50 years later. My Dad’s been gone almost eight years, and that’s kind of upsetting,” Clower said as he held back tears. “We have managed, and he would be proud.”