Story and Photos by Karen McCullough
When I was growing up, my grandfather owned the local tire shop in town, Postai’s One-Stop. One stop and you could do it all – buy tires, have them repaired, get a tune-up or fill-up the car. He knew his customers on a first name basis. This was how business was done in the 1930’s, 40’s & 50’s, and then you took care of your customers for a lifetime. When my grandfather passed away, the business was handed down to two of his sons and the tradition of good service was carried on.
Keller’s Farm Market is built on these same principles of family values and customer service, and their customers have been coming back for generations. The products they offer to their customers today are still some of the freshest, healthiest items available, just as in the past.
Helen and Lawrence Keller started the business on the family ranch in Pueblo, Colorado in 1946 to provide fresh meat and poultry to local customers who would drive to the farm to buy their many fine and delicious offerings. The Kellers also provided premium meat cuts and homemade sausages to upscale restaurants, and sold wholesale to markets in New Mexico. Sales for their farm fresh meats and sausages were brisk in New Mexico, and in 1972 daughter Nancy opened the first Keller’s Farm Market in Albuquerque. The New Mexico market proved so successful that soon after, the family sold their shops in Colorado and moved to Albuquerque full time. In 1978 the second shop opened and the Keller family has been here ever since.
Now the children of Helen and Lawrence carry on the family tradition: Margie Keller Perko, Nancy Keller Jackson, Paul Keller and Mike Keller operate the two stores in Albuquerque, one on Eubank and another on Coors, and the ranch in Moriarty where they raise their cows, chickens and turkeys. They are known for their hormone and antibiotic free, well-fed turkeys, and all of their beef, lamb, poultry and eggs come from humanely raised animals. All meat is cut in-house by a staff of butchers who work from dawn to late afternoon. Sausages, homemade cold cuts, specialized beef cuts (your choice of grass finished or corn finished) chicken, turkey, hams, smoked meats and farm fresh eggs are always available. While the product they sell is high quality and fresh, it’s the service that makes this business stand out in the crowd. Satisfied customers are the pride and the legacy of Keller’s.
“Our customers are educated. They are dining out less, eating at home more and making more of an attempt to make wise decisions about what they purchase.,” says Margie. Nancy adds, “We bring in whole carcasses, and everything is cut and made right here. You can stop here on the way home from work and get all the ingredients for a complete meal”. As people are getting smarter about their food and understanding more about the benefits of supporting local, healthy food, they are seeking out places like Keller’s to shop.
The Kellers are passionate about their fresh meats and its health benefits, and the service they provide to the community. Not so long ago, every community had a butcher who knew where the animal they were butchering came from, and they were comfortable with requests for custom cuts. The art of butchery has been largely abandoned in favor of large meat processing plants that provide pre-cut products to big box stores that are then packaged and sold as fresh.
“The thing that scares me are the meat products that are brought in pre-ground, pre-prepared, full of dyes and products to enhance flavor” says Nancy. “Our sausages and deli meats are made from old family recipes using quality meat cuts. And,” she adds, “large corporations do not have the level of protection that we do, do not know whether the workers washed their hands before handling the meat or just how fresh the meat actually is.” On the other hand, the Keller family can trace their eggs from the chicken to the shelf and guarantee that what they sell comes from animals that are healthy and well treated.
“Educated customers want quality products,” says Nancy and Margie nods in agreement. “We give them that and more. We love our customers and want to make their shopping experience the best possible.” If you add a dose of genuine value for your local economy, you have a model for how business should be done and how Keller’s does business. When I asked Margie’s teenage daughter Rebecca, who helps in the family business, to name her favorite part of working in the store, she didn’t miss a beat, “Helping customers”. And so it goes in the family business. Keller’s is there to serve their customers fresh, healthy, safe and delicious food. It’s as simple as that.