MILO, Iowa — It’s nestled in the heart of small town Milo’s Main Street.
“This little out-of-the-way place,” said Darrell Goering, who co-owns Milo Locker Meats and Grocery with his wife, Angie. COVID-19 has given them a unique problem. “We did 80 hogs last week. We normally did 30 before COVID,” said Angie.
As major meat processing plants like Tyson have slowed production, the Warren County business is working at a pace they never thought possible. Darrell said, “There’s been a lot of head down and elbows moving.”
With supply low and demand high, major grocery stores have had to ration customers’ meat purchases and increase prices. But the Goerings haven’t had to. “Since we are buying direct from the farmer, we were selling ground beef for $4 a pound before this started and we are still selling ground beef for $4 a pound,” said Darrell.
Chandler Heemstra waited for the doors to open and came from nearby Liberty Center. “It makes me very happy to see it. All the people coming together to work hard and serve for the people that we live with,” said Heemstra.
Hand sanitizer and signs reminding customers of social distancing are provided. The only issue is working feverishly to replenish shelves each day. “Within about 20 minutes to 30 minutes we are pretty busy,” said Angie.
The parking lot has been a telling sign of their demand. License plates were from Polk County, Lucas County and even Wayne County, where a couple from Corydon made an 80-mile round trip. Angie said, “It’s been humbling to Darrell and I both that people would drive so far, and even those in town that are local, that they’d come on a regular basis.”
Construction of the now 13,000-square-foot facility began last June and was finished in January of this year. Without it, slicing through the pandemic would be different. Angie said, “We would not be able to do the numbers we are doing now or have this retail space.”
The outpouring of support while many businesses fear for the future isn’t lost on the owners. “We process it as quick as we can and get it out for everyone to come in and get it. It’s definitely challenging trying to keep things full and exciting at the same time,” Darrell said.
The pandemic has created uncertainty, but Ross Dale from Indianola says Milo’s Locker proves the pandemic is also creating a unique change in the way Iowans shop. Dale said, “It opens their eyes. Now we are almost kind of forced to look elsewhere and we are finding all of these jewels.”
It’s a diamond in the rough, guiding meat lovers to Milo from farm to table. Angie said, “It’s Iowans helping Iowans and that is amazing to see.”
Milo Locker Meats and Grocery is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Their Saturday hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m.