The world has seen so much since 1515, the Plague, two world wars, an industrial revolution and nearly two dozen changes of monarchy. One constant through all
of that, maintaining its service to Bridport’s locals and surviving fires and floods alike, is Britain’s oldest family business – R J Balson & Son.

We speak to the current custodian, Richard Balson, who carries the torch for the 26th generation of the family business. He tells us about the seemingly perennial
demand for their personal customer service, their strong relationship with the community in Bridport, and how they’ve had to evolve their business to suit trends and technological advancements that could only be dreamt of in the butcher’s early years.

This episode covers:
● The incredible tales of meat sales and methods of refrigeration
● Exceptional customer service as one of the business’ foundational values
● Tracing their business and family lineage back to the 16th century
● Evolving their offering to suit modern food lifestyles
● Offering a personal service to everyone

Episode Highlights

“I had a lovely 45 years of learning the trade for my father. He passed away about 10 years ago and we had a lovely father and son relationship. After you’ve been
with someone more or less every day of your life, when they go it’s a hell of a void. We’ve got his picture in the shop overlooking us in spirit, but I’ve got lovely
memories, and he taught me everything I know.” – 7:30 – Richard Balson

“We offer a completely different way of shopping, a more personal, pleasurable way of shopping. And we offer a better quality product. It’s just lovely that we
know so many people, and it’s great.” – 10:15 – Richard Balson

“When you’re offering a personal service, they want to see you, they want to see the boss. I get people that queue outside because they want me to serve them!They don’t want my assistant because they know that I know what they want.” -23:30 – Richard Balson

“I think small businesses in our line have done quite well because people have been reluctant to go to the supermarket to avoid the crowds. They can come to a small business where we only let two people in at a time and they can shop safely. They’ve enjoyed a bit of banter and being treated like a human being.” – 33:30 – Richard Balson

“We’re still selling more stuff than we ever sold, but because of the lifestyles and because the husband and the wife are both working, they don’t have time to do a full blown roast every single day of the week. So they want something that can be cooked in 20 minutes – we’ve offered that and it’s very popular.” – 48:35 – Richard Balson

“You’ve got to be hard working, and you’ve got to treat everyone the same. Everyone has their favorite customers, some are more pleasurable to serve than others. 99% of the general public are lovely, but you’ll always get one person who’s difficult or you don’t really want them as a customer. But you just have to treat everyone the same.” – 1:01:55 – Richard Balson

“The future is very bright. We’re going to have a hell of a busy summer, and as long as we all stay fit and healthy, we’ll be okay, and we all love what we do.” –
1:05:45 – Richard Balson

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