Joey Coleman of Watson Chapel believes in doing what you know and doing it where your customers know you. So it was with that philosophy that he opened the White Hall Fresh Market about 10 months ago on Sheridan Road, sandwiched between the towns of Pine Bluff and White Hall.
These days, he’s one of perhaps a half dozen butchers in southeast and central Arkansas. Maybe fewer, he said, and like many others, he learned his trade on the job. It takes about 18 months to become proficient in butchery.
He spent 15 years working for Brookshire’s Food Stores in Pine Bluff, and there he was paid to hone his craft. As well, Coleman said, “I got to know my customers. I know what they want.”
It was time to go out on his own so late last year he set up shop on Sheridan Road. There’s about 300 square feet of cooler space in the back, with plenty of room to store his choice meats, and another 600 square feet in the front where he sells meats.
Coleman said he doesn’t offer second- or third-grade or factory pre-cut meats, but instead, he specializes in in-store hand cut USDA Prime Angus beef in a variety of cuts such as sirloin, ribs, New York strips and more.
He buys his beef from a farm in Iowa.
His customers tend to agree with his offerings. Kirsty McDougal wrote, “great steak! Legendary,” while Randy Hutcheson said, “Great meat, fresh seafood and great extras for your grilling pleasure.”
“Our stuffed pork chops are popular,” Coleman said.
People drive from as far away as Conway, Stuttgart, Little Rock, Monticello, Sheridan, East End and all points in between to buy his meats and his side dishes like twice-baked potatoes and mushrooms. They also travel there for the large selection of fresh weekly Gulf Coast seafood like sushi-grade tuna, salmon, oysters and sea bass, to name a few.
“We focus on quality and have seafood that’s next to impossible to find here. We have a fresh fish-of-the-week deal,” Coleman said.
They also serve up lunch offerings like crab legs and other seafood, fully loaded potatoes, seafood mac and cheese, shrimp tacos and more, and he said about his reason for adding seafood to his lineup, “I love seafood and believed there was a niche market for it,” he said.
Customer Paul Walters wrote online, “This shrimp dish is awesome.”
His meat market is doing well, and in the future, he says he may expand his operation to other towns like Stuttgart or Conway. And that would be just to get his feet wet before tackling larger towns like Little Rock.
IT’S LOCAL AND A FAMILY AFFAIR
Coleman runs the store with his wife, Raven; his sister, Jacey Coleman; and help from his parents, Pat and Jeannie Coleman.
Shortly after opening the shop, the coronavirus shutdown happened. While many suffered a financial setback because of the statewide shutdown, the fresh meat market business thrived.
“It helped our business,” he said.
People, he explained, worked from home and found extra time to cook and grill.
“We probably had four times the normal business,” he said.
Also, Coleman said, “people want to buy local and support White Hall businesses.”