By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
“We put this idea into practice early in the winter when our 2,000 square foot addition was completed,” said owner John Thielen of Thielen Meats in Little Falls.
The building on the east side of Little Falls was built in 1990 and in 22 years has outgrown the original space.
“We have three times the equipment than we did in 1990,” Thielen said.
For a number of years, Thielen’s out-of-town customers have asked Thielen to leave packages of meat with other businesses since many times they were unable to make it to Little Falls by closing time.
“We built this added space to accommodate those requests,” said Thielen.
He said technology has made the entire process simple. The customer will place the order and pay with their credit or debit card. They tell Thielen’s what evening they will be by to pick up their order and are given an entry code. That code will get them into the section of the building where the order will be stored in chest freezers.
When the customer arrives, they enter the code on the keypad which gives them access. Their name is on a board showing which of the four freezers their order is in. They pick it up and leave.
“The area is lit, inside and out, and separate from the rest of the store,” said Thielen. “Right now, there will be one order per chest freezer. So far, there hasn’t been a problem with people taking more than they ordered. But if there ever is, we have security cameras set up, plus we know who has that day’s code to get in.”
The entry codes are changed daily.
Not only may Thielen’s customers pick up their orders in this innovative way, they may also drop off their venison trim or other meat the same way. All they have to do is call in advance, get the code and drop off the meat, clearly marked, in the freezers.
As far as Thielen knows, there is no other company with the same set-up.
“Over the years, I have had many requests to stay open longer hours just to accommodate those people who cannot make it through Little Falls before we close. I decided to do something to appease their needs yet allow me to go home when we close,” he said.
Thielen said he knows his customers and doesn’t foresee any problems.