Ray Schumsky, owner of Ray’s Meat Market in Purdy, is proud to follow in his father’s “old school” butcher ways with customer service being priority No. 1 along with offering the best quality meats available. Photo by Scott Turner, KP News

Every week, Lakebay resident Joanne Johnston makes a stop at Ray’s Meat Market in Purdy to stock up on fresh meat.

“The quality of the meat they sell is outstanding. And the health benefits are amazing. I’m an asthmatic and I’m allergic to preservatives. I used to have to buy my beef whole and have it butchered to be sure it was steroid- and hormone-free, and I no longer have to do that,” Johnston said.

She also appreciates the good service she always receives at Ray’s.

“I know all the staff by name. And I can order all my holiday meats here and they’re always ready on time, and they’re always of the best quality you’re going to get anywhere.

“And if there is a price difference between Ray’s and the grocery store, the quality of Ray’s meats outweighs that,” he said.

The market is now in its third year at the Purdy location, but owner Ray Schumsky has been handling meat since he was a teenager.

“My father had a meat market in Kent,” Schumsky said. “I started off down there when I was about 14, grinding hamburger and washing walls.”

That was in about 1963.

“I’ve been doing this now for about 40 years on and off –– cutting meat. I’ve done it all too –– everything from wholesale to retail, you name it,” he said with a smile.

Schumsky credits his father for the success of his Purdy market.

“I couldn’t have learned from a better person. He’d been doing it all his life. One of the things he taught me was how to break down beef and how to cut all the parts. They don’t teach that anymore, because everything you get nowadays in the grocery store comes into the store as what they call ‘primal cuts’ –– already broke down. So it’s hard to find a meat cutter that even knows how to break a complete steer down,” he said.

Schumsky said one of his most important lessons learned was dealing with people in general, and how to properly talk to customers.

“People that came into his store felt like a friend, not just a customer. Everybody was on a first-name basis, as they are here at our store. We treat people like family and it’s worked wonders. People come here to shop and they also come here for the experience of a friendly face, a short conversation and an old-school butcher with a ‘Cheers’-type atmosphere,” he said.

That concept is serving Schumsky well at his Purdy market.

“Considering that we started business in the low part of the economy –– in a recession when it was a gamble –– we’ve done quite well. We’re not making millions, but we’re keeping our head above board,” he said, grinning again.

In addition to the all-natural Painted Hills beef that Ray’s currently sells, Schumsky said the store will soon offer family-size freezer packs of meat as well.

“It won’t be the all-natural beef, but it will be a good quality beef like you’d get at QFC,” he said. “It’s a more affordable beef that we can cater to the larger families that have three or four kids and want to buy in quantity at a better price.”

The cuts “will be absolutely good cuts, and we’ll stick with the same cuts we do in our Painted Hills beef,” he said. “We want to bring in the larger families that can afford to buy larger packages. But we’ll stick with our policy of don’t put anything out you wouldn’t buy yourself.”

For information, call (253) 432-4241.

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