Anyone who has followed the demise of Moo & Oink has to wonder how it could happen. I recall about 10 years ago, the business was profiled in the newspaper and at that time it was reported that they were making $7 million a week selling meat in the black community. And I can believe them.
The first time I ever went to their store was back in the early 1990s, and they were still known as Calumet Meat Company. Then they were out on 38th and South Halsted. It was the place to go in Chicago if you wanted meats and especially if you could afford, and had the freezer space to buy, meat by the case. I bought my first case of chicken wings from them. I can still remember paying $19 and getting a 40 pound box of wings.
In 1995, Moo & Oink opened the store at 4848 W. Madison St. I patronized that store and would still purchase bags of chicken wings, packages of pork chops and smoked meats to go in my pot of beans or greens. Part of the joy and hassle of going there was finding a place to park, and then going through the door into a freezing cold store (what a joy on a hot summer day). Moo & Oink became a weekly trip for me as I would always find this newspaper there.
Now the store is closed and the business, as we know it, shuttered. The African-American-owned Best Chicago Meat Company bought the business, but they only wanted the name. The physical building wasn’t of any interest to them.
Last year for my final column, I wrote about making 2012 the Year of the Child here in Austin. My reasoning was simple. As people like myself age, we need to be assured that there is something left for the younger generation. Something tangible. Something that shows them that as a community we do care about their future. And nothing shows that more and better than a business that can be the catalyst for other businesses. Because if there is one thing our young people need to learn and understand it’s this: The government isn’t going to save us. There isn’t any huge government work program coming down the tubes.
There isn’t any free government money for the average person. All the money that Obama put into Wall Street and with all the money put into the American Revitalization Act (the stimulus), little to none of that money reached the everyday common man or woman here in Austin. The physical business known as Moo & Oink may be gone forever, but what about the building? It can still host a meat store.
For all the news reports that told of Moo & Oink’s demise, there is no way that anyone can convince me that people like myself wouldn’t go and buy a case of chicken wings, a case of ribs and rib tips. So the question remains: Who is going to lead the way to buy the store at 4848 W. Madison St.? What young person is interested in supplying meats to local businesses and to the community in general? Who is interested in opening a business that can bring in revenue of $2 million a week? And what are we, the people who live in Austin, willing to do to support such a business?
As a community, we have over 100,000 people in Austin. If we all bought a $10 share in that location, it would generate a million dollars. That is enough money to purchase the building, purchase the fixtures needed and get inventory inside of it. That building can be the catalyst for the “Yes We Can” spirit that we need. I would truly love to see some young people who are willing to step up and embrace that spirit. That building can generate tax dollars and jobs.
What we don’t need is for it to become another church or shuttered location and potential eyesore.