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,
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
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
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
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
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
“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.