The New Costco? Buying Meat Out of a Truck in a Church Parking Lot

Wholesale "drive-thru meat markets" are popping up in the parking lots of churches and bowling alleys around the country.

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Consumers love discounted prices, especially when it comes to staple household purchases. Chicken breasts for $1.79 per pound? Sign us up.

Many shoppers are doing just that with an emerging service from a Washington-based company called Zaycon Foods, even as the company requires customers to accept two unusual practices: buying in bulk (those chicken breasts come in 40-pound boxes) and (here’s the really weird part of this) buying out of the back of a truck rather than a typical store.

Zaycon’s drive-thru markets have been held in places such as Winston-Salem, N.C., the Tampa Bay region in Florida, and Fresno, Calif. Customers place their orders online, and pickups in area parking lots (outside churches, bowling alleys, roller rinks) are scheduled on specific days. Orders can be made as late as three hours before the pickup time, but no orders are allowed on the spot.

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The idea of picking up meat out of the back of a truck may seems sketchy, perhaps even illicit. That may actually be part of the attraction—that you’re in on some sneaky, quasi-black market operation. “People have told me, ‘I feel dirty. I just bought a box of chicken out of a truck parked in a bowling alley. But it’s the best chicken I’ve ever had,”’ Mike Conrad, one of the company’s executives, told the Tampa Bay Times.

Buying meat in enormous quantities packaged in plain cardboard boxes doesn’t seem to bother shoppers either. “It’s not as pretty as if you go to the grocery store and buy it, but it’s high quality and fresh,” Liza Ford, who blogs at AddictedtoSaving.com, said. “It’s a great way to save money.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported that a recent drive-thru meat market in central Florida was crowded with bargain-hunting shoppers:

“We’re big Costco-goers,” said Alicia Spears, an Orlando real-estate agent, who spent $125 for 40 pounds of ham and sausage. “We thought this might be a better way to cut that middleman out.”

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As for the idea that there’s something unappealing or strange about buying meat out of a truck, that’s silly when you really think about it, Conrad told the Sentinel:

“Every chicken you’ve ever gotten came from a truck,” he said. “The butcher made it look nice, put it on a nice tray, covered it with Saran wrap and sold it for $2 a pound more than I’m selling it for.”

Look for Zaycon trucks packed with 25,000 pounds of meat—chicken breasts, ham, ground beef, salmon, sausage links, and/or sometimes even Alaskan cod—coming to a church parking lot near you.

11 comments
jerryabr
jerryabr

This is nothing new. We were buying frozen fish and other items out of a truck back in the 1970s and 1980s. They would run ads in the paper when and where they would be. Show up, buy what you wanted, and done.

NedRavine
NedRavine

local retailers will not be happy with this company---they'll call some "friends" in the government to get them shut down

tomsquawk
tomsquawk

just wait, brick and mortar retailers will lobby to have laws passed to eliminate the competition based on "sanitary conditions".

firebug10
firebug10

I've been a customer of Zaycon Foods for awhile now. I have bought chicken and their beef and both excellent products. I would recommend this company to anyone.

LMC502
LMC502

We've received chicken from Zaycon Foods in the past and we recently just picked up boxes of ham from them.  Everything has been great so far; hoping to try their sausage links when we get a second freezer.

therantguy
therantguy

It makes sense...the problem with eliminating the middle man has always been cost...I'd be happy to buy chicken direct but don't want to make a trip specifically for chicken so them selling from the plant is out...it would cost way too much for them to deliver so that's out...and, bam, beautiful solution...a big refrigerated truck with orders that are already sold and awaiting picking...they don't need to do anything more than sit there and sell and then move on....none of the fixed costs of retailing (i.e. the land) and all the benefits...

NoSmallStir
NoSmallStir

I have been ordering and eating the Chicken and Beef from Zaycon since they have been delivering in our area.   I am more than satisfied with the quality of their products.  It is GREAT!!!   Best around, especially in this state!  We don't get the quality and size that you get back in New Yawk... except from Zaycon!

her727
her727

@LMC502 The ham was amazing as well. We grabbed an order for Easter too!