INDIANAPOLIS — As the co-owner of a well-established butcher shop with his wife, Vickie, in Indianapolis, Dave Rollins answers all kinds of questions about meat.

Though the shop employees strive to successfully market fresh chicken, beef, pork, lamb and other meats to consumers at a price that can compete with the big-box stores and grocery chains, it’s his family’s background in cattle production that shines through many of the conversations he has with guests about food.

“With the economy the way it has been, people don’t buy higher-priced cuts of meat — they stick with chicken and ground beef,” he said. “We offer people a high-quality cut of meat at a reasonable price. I can tell you Kincaid’s meats are the best.”

Much of the shop’s success has been about rolling with the changes — offering leaner cuts of meat and fish, as well as supplying U.S. Department of Agriculture Prime and Choice brand beef with more flavor and marbling, though the shop must be careful not to price itself out of business, Rollins noted.

One of the first things that instantly stands out about Kincaid’s is that it looks like an old-fashioned butcher shop, though it’s situated between a Starbucks and a clothing boutique in an upscale part of town.

The original freezer, built in 1921 when Rollins’ grandfather, L.E. Kincaid, opened the shop, still is there, next to several large wooden chopping blocks, all of which have been thoroughly worn down by the repeated use of cleavers and hand saws.

Nearby is a wall adorned in fair banners, logging the many awards the family has garnered for its Hereford cattle. The banners are a great way to engage with consumers, Rollins said.

“A lot of people think we just bought the steers that won us the awards, so it’s good for them to learn that the awards are just for the show cattle,” he said. “We’ve been here for 92 years raising cattle, and we try to get all our information on the best way to do that with some knowledge behind it.”

He said many customers will ask about whether the meats contain antibiotics, hormones or are free-range or grass-fed.

“It seems like common sense that you can’t sell an animal that contains antibiotics or hormones in its system, and people don’t realize that there are different types of grass to feed cows, each which has a certain amount of nutrients,” he said. “Grass is dormant now, anyway, but people still want to know what the cattle are fed.”

Another thing that stands out is Rollins’ attentiveness to his employees, some of whom have worked there for 30 years and include a chef, experienced meat cutters and “arguably the best butcher in Indianapolis.”

“Our niche is we are a true meat market — we cut meat any way you want it,” Rollins said. “Everyone who works in our shop can offer customers knowledge about the products.”

Though Rollins Herefords are an established cattle breed in Fishers, where Rollins lives and where the family farm originally was located, the family’s cattle herd today resides in Michigan, he said.

His son is a crop consultant with Heartland Technologies, an independent research company located directly across from the farm in Fishers, while his cousin researches cattle in Alabama.

As a member of the board of directors of the Hamilton County Beef Cattle Association, Rollins works directly with state officials to establish new programs and develop new niches for cattle producers.

He was part of the roundtable discussions, along with about 10 others, that helped get the Heartland Premium Aged Beef program — through which he now sources many of his cuts of beef — up and running.

Rollins said he buys the rest of the shop’s selections from Beef Products International and other companies.

As a member of area beef associations, he said it can be a challenge updating cattle producers on which meat grades can realistically be sold at such a market.

“A 1,300- to 1,400-pound steer could be a nice grade of meat, but housewives want to buy a thin ribeye steak,” he said. “It can be very expensive to get the thickness you need to grill it properly. We’re seeing price shopping becoming more of an issue with customers.”

Kincaid’s pork products all are processed at the Indiana Packers Co. in Delphi, and the lamb is sourced in the U.S., Rollins said.

The store offers an array of meat and fish products in popular brands, including Kobe beef, Boars Head lunch meats, Usingers brats and franks, Traders Point Creamery cheese, bison from Cooks Bison Ranch and Rasta Joe barbecue sauces and rubs, as well as stuffed boneless cornish items and turduckens.

Some of the products are exotic, including alligator, though Rollins said he only will buy U.S. products.

The producer is very active in the agricultural community.

One of his favorite events is Beef Up the Blood Supply, an activity coordinated with the Indiana Blood Center and co-hosted by the HCBCA where he donates about 350 Hoosier ribeye steaks and members of the association and the WFMS radio station cook them.

The Rollinses also provide ribeyes to the Hamilton County Fair and to Conner Prairie events and are members of the Indiana Hereford Association and participate in the Hoosier Beef Congress and the Indiana Farm Fresh Beef program.

The family provided a product at cost to the National Hereford Show in Indianapolis in 2003 and has sold certified Hereford beef at Kincaid’s in support of the program since its inception, the company website reads.

Rollins added he supports the Hamilton County Southeastern FFA Chapter and is a 4-H teacher in shooting sports.

He said he hopes to sell hanging beef and lamb to customers next year and looks forward to hosting year-round beef tasting events at the shop.

“We have great customers. We try to sell them the highest-quality product at a reasonable price and make it educational and fun – hopefully, they leave with what they wanted, and if it helps us make our car payment, that’s helpful, too,” he said.