Circle H Meat Market & Mercantile is a pretty descriptive name for a business, but this one could also double as the “Just Plain Fun Store.”
Because it is. The life-sized black Angus on the top of the building at 633 E.S. 11th St. lets you know right away that the main product inside is beef. And the fresh beef, which can be cut to your specifications right before your eyes by butcher Anthony Ortiz, is the store’s main selling point. But don’t be surprised when you find yourself leaving with a bagful of products featured in the mercantile sections.
The first eye-catching features are the neatly arranged shelves and attractive layout of the store. An old red Coca-Cola dispensing box, the kind with the lid on top, gives the store a “mercantile” feel. The bed of an antique pickup truck serves as a display case for baskets of fresh vegetables.
“It’s like your old roadside vegetable stand,” said Tommy Hendrix, who owns the store with his wife, Tami.
Walk around the store and pretty quickly it becomes obvious that most of the products are produced in Abilene or in nearby communities. There’s Volleman’s Milk from Comanche County, grilling pellets from Hamlin, beef processed in Baird, and vegetables in season from local farmers.
The Abilene products are almost endless–Iceland coolers, Hubba Bubba Rubba seasoning, Absolutely Wild BBQ sauce, and jars of garden mixed vegetables, soup mix, and spiced peaches.
Tami said customers come in for a cut of beef and then are attracted to all the other local products that look too good to pass up.
“By the time they leave here,” she said, “they have their supper already in their hand.”
The Hendrix name is a familiar one in Abilene. The couple owns Hendrix Electric and the Lake Breeze RV Park, also located on E.S. 11th Street. Tommy and his crew did the construction and electrical work to turn an old cheese processing company into a meat market and mercantile. According to Tami, it was Tommy who conceived of the idea for the mercantile, from what to sell to how to give the store an old-time feeling.
Tommy and Tami wanted a place for local producers and manufacturers to sell their products. And, they wanted a place to feature their beef, which is processed by Tommy’s brother, Gary, at NSC Processing in Baird. “NSC” stands for “no spinal cord,” a means of processing that prevents the spinal cord from being exposed, eliminating diseases. NSC processing produces cuts of meat with no bones or bone meal.
“That makes a big difference in the taste,” Tommy said.
Tommy is equally proud of the “Circle H Meat Market” and the “Mercantile” parts of his business. The meat market offers fresh beef, cut to order. The mercantile section gives local people a place to sell their products, something that is especially important to Tommy and Tami Hendrix as local business owners themselves. Customers can look for this market to continue to grow in the coming months as more local products are added.
Tips for Perfect Summer Grilling
Local restaurateur Josh Allen offers tips for the perfect summer grilling experience. Like Tommy and Tami Hendrix, his main tip is to buy local.
1. Buy Quality Meat – Prime or Choice beef aged 21 days (wet aged)
2. Cook steaks on high heat to seal in the juices. Don’t season your steaks until right before cooking.
3. Use tongs, not a fork, to handle the meat as you don’t want to pierce the meat.
4. When purchasing a seasoning, make certain it contains no MSG. (Circle H Meat Market & Mercantile has some great locally produced seasonings.)
5. Buy local. (Circle H Meat Market & Mercantile has everything you need.)
633 E.S. 11TH, ABILENE, TEXAS
By Loretta Fulton