“The best is always the better buy.”
That is one of the slogans George Sorisho came up with for Mini Mart Specialty Meats, which has found success in Detroit since 1975.
Sorisho began working as a butcher in the 1950s and quickly gained a reputation. It wasn’t long until he started getting hired to help turn around struggling meat departments in grocery stores across the city.
In 1967, he and his family decided to move to California. However, by the early 1970s Sorisho and his wife became homesick, picked up stakes and returned to Detroit where they decided to open a market.
The shop was set up at 16435 W. McNichols Rd., with Sorisho, his three sons, and brother as the original employees. The three sons followed in his footsteps and became master butchers to carry on the family business.
Today, the store is owned by son, John. George is no longer directly involved with the store, but, up until a couple years ago and into his 80s, he would occasionally come in and cut meat.
YouTube video from Di$cover D1
Throughout all the ups and downs of the city, Mini Mart Specialty Meats has remained successful, without traditional advertising. To this day, people will come from the furthest suburbs to shop. Sometimes it is because they are from the neighborhood and other times it’s just from word-of-mouth.
One of its shrimp suppliers found out how popular the store is when it did fried shrimp sampling. The supplier planned to be there for a short while and ended up spending four and a half hours.
Former Detroit residents are also loyal to the market. When they come back to visit relatives they come by to shop and leave with cases of some of the market’s specialty products.
Despite the success, Mini Mart Specialty Meats is still very much a neighborhood shop.
“All my employees are from the neighborhood,” says John Sorisho.
Mini Mart has an average of more than 15 full-time employees with more than 20 years at the store. The current manager started at age 15 and moved up.
Such loyalty is not forgotten. Employees have paid vacation time, health care and a 401k.
“How do you make the best better?” says John. “You give the best service.”
In the end, like any grocery store, it comes down to the meat and the produce.
All of the beef is Black Angus. Some of that beef is turned into burgers. Mini Mart takes the beef and quarters and grinds it in-house, unlike some other stores who get their burgers premade. Mini-Mart guarantees its burgers are the same quality meat as its steaks.
Pork comes from Ruth Packing in Ohio and comes from pigs killed the day before.
The poultry all comes from the Amish, who only feed the birds grain, and maybe some vitamins.
Fresh fish is delivered Monday thru Friday. Catfish even comes up fresh from Mississippi and the salmon is specially marinated every Friday through Sunday.
“Don’t sell your customers something you wouldn’t want,” says John.
Of course, getting the best product is only part of the way to stay on top for almost 40 years. Mini Mart had to come up with new things.
The best example is the signature Turkey chop, which they came up with in 2001. This specially cut piece of turkey is widely enjoyed, and is one of the major items former Michiganders take home when they visit.
There was even an attempt to put a patent on it, but the time lapsed. While competitors sell copies, they have never had the same success with the Turkey Chop, John says.
It has been more than 40 years, and Mini Mart has proven the founder’s other slogan … “Mini Mart meat is hard to beat.”
— Photos are taken from a Di$cover D1 YouTube video. Di$cover D1 is a District 1 initiative designed to create a platform to engage community and small businesses through targeted initiatives and events.
Editor’s Note: This small business feature is sponsored by Bank of America. To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources for small business owners visit: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go.