News

New owners for Vanessa Meats

Jacob Robinson

By Jacob Robinson, Simcoe Reformer

John and Rika Jansen, from left, have retired after 22 years ownership of Vanessa Meats. Corwin and Sharon Velthove of La Salette have taken over the business. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

John and Rika Jansen, from left, have retired after 22 years ownership of Vanessa Meats. Corwin and Sharon Velthove of La Salette have taken over the business. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

VANESSA - 

John and Rika Jansen purchased what became Vanessa Meats in 1993 and opened the shop two years later.

It's long been a popular Norfolk business, but the Jansens never thought they would stay at it as long as they did.

“It was only going to be a short time,” John chuckled. “Twenty-two years later...”

Now in their 70s, the couple retired from the meat business on Saturday but they've left the operation in familiar hands.

Taking over is Corwin and Sharon Velthove of La Salette. Both couples attend Netherlands Reformed Church in Norwich and had kicked around the idea of the changeover for the last number of years.

“This (past) summer it came to the point where we were able to do it financially and we decided that it was something we wanted to actually try,” said Corwin.

“We see it as a challenge, which we enjoy,” Sharon added.

The Velthoves had always been interested in purchasing and preparing specialty meats, but just to be sure their new career path was the right one, Corwin left his job as an electrician and worked at another butcher shop for a short time before officially agreeing to the deal.

“After I was there for a month and a half I already knew it was what I wanted to do,” Corwin said.

“For us, the biggest thing is going forward we want to try and continue to have the customer satisfaction that John's had – try to fill his shoes and eventually put our own little spin on things ... I think we're both really determined people and failure is not really an option.”

Aside from the Jansens, the rest of the current Vanessa Meats roster is staying with the business.

The now former owners have no shortage of ideas on how to spend retirement. They plan on travelling – an Alaskan cruise is already booked – while John will also volunteer with the Red Cross and Canadian Cancer Society.

While they'll be keeping busy, the Jansens will certainly miss the familiar faces they've seen over the past two decades.

“I always enjoy 99 per cent of the people and I can also deal with the one per cent,” John said. “I had a cement business before and sold to the public a lot – I've always dealt with people. I'll miss people.”

Despite being located in a rural area the business has long been a hive of activity. One reason for that is the submarine sandwiches offered.

“Lots of people start out buying subs and pretty soon they're buying all their meat (here), it seems to grow – they tell their friends and they come in ... some of our meat goes all the way up to North Bay,” said Rika.

“It just takes time and it's word of mouth. For me, that's been the best advertising of all.”

Customers can still expect to see a weekly specialty sausage to be offered as well. The business has sold a number of unique recipes over the years like mac and cheese, pickle and peppers and even strawberry-flavoured during the summertime.

“(There's some) really unique things that people would never dream of doing,” Corwin points out.

For as much as the Jansens will miss the business, they know the time was right to leave.

“There is a little bit of mixed feelings about it, but it's good simply because it's time,” said Rika. “We're 70 years old, it's time to stop so we can do some things we haven't been able to do for the last 20 years.”

jrobinson@postmedia.com