Fourth Avenue Meat Market
Bill Harrell worked for Safeway for 26 years, starting as a meat cutter and ending up as the regional Northwest meat manager based in Billings. In 1985, Safeway pulled out of the Easter part of Montana, and moved its regional offices to Spokane, WA. Instead of continuing with Safeway, Bill resigned and began looking for a grocery store to buy. In the spring of 1985, the opportunity to buy the Fourth Avenue Meat Market, a custom plant with limited retail sales, presented itself, and Bill took the plunge. After extensive remodeling and cleaning, the Harrell family reopened the store. They kept one full-time employee, along with the family help of Candy, Kevin and Kory. The initial remodeling included expanding the retail meat counters, and adding a convenience line of groceries. Soon thereafter, we bought our first smoker and added a mobile custom slaughter truck.
In 1988, we became one of the original “chapter” members of the Montana Meat Processors Association (MMPA). Kevin went off to college in Bozeman in 1988, coming back on weekends to work. Several hard years of work began to pay off, and in 1989, hired a second full-time employee, Ed Michael, Jr.
In 1992, the lease for the building that the market was using was soon to be up. Problems with the building and conflicts with the other business in the building, along with the need to expand, prompted Bill to start looking for a building to buy. In the spring, Bill found two adjoining buildings on North 25th that were suitable. Demolition and remodeling were started. Several temp full-time employees were added, as the market continued its day-to- day operations while construction continued. Most of the construction and demolition work was done by Bill and his employees, except refrigeration, electrical and plumbing. In the winter of 1992, Kevin graduated from college and moved back to Billings, helping out where he could.
In the spring of 1993, major construction was finished and by June, the Fourth Avenue Meat Market officially moved to its new location and celebrated its grand opening. With its bigger retail space, and over 4 times the overall area, we were able to add a second and then a third smoker, along with offering an expanded line of retail fresh meats, cured products, and a bigger line of groceries. In 1996 Kevin became a partner in the business and eventually took the lead in the Cured Meat process and has expanded the types of smoked products offered.
In 2000, Bill semi-retired, and left the day-to- day operations in the hands of his two partners, Ed and Kevin. He returns to help out during the busy months of October, November and December, and when we need an extra hand. In 2011, Bill fully retired and his two partners, Ed and Kevin, bought out his portion of the business. At this time the organization was changed to a Corporation with Kevin and Ed as the only shareholders. They expanded their business to Red Lodge, Montana by purchasing a building and opening a deli in May 2011.
In 2016, Kevin made the decision to buy Ed’s shares in the business and is currently working on making some changes on how the business is run. We are always looking for new processes and smoked products. We offer a high quality and personal service to all of our customers.