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Meet Debbie Sam of Sam’s Meat Market in Aurora

Today we’d like to introduce you to Debbie Sam.

Debbie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My father was an old school butcher, since before I was born. I recall very vividly running back to the meat department to visit my dad at work and he’d hand all of us kids a hot dog. I was one of four children that had no idea that one day we would all follow in our father’s footsteps in one degree or another.

There was a beef shortage in 1973 and my father traveled from California to Colorado to purchase beef. As a child, I remember my father talking about opening his own meat shop and he’d point out land where he dreamed it would be. During his trip to Colorado, he was given an opportunity to open his own business and by 1974 my parents packed up their family and we moved to Colorado.

By the end of the year, he had acquired his long sought after dream and the whole family worked the business. I was 11 at the time and we worked long hours seven days a week. As a child, I didn’t get it and there was never a time that I dreamed of ever wanting to run a meat shop on my own.

Sometime in 1982 my only brother; my father’s only son (Ken Sam) decided that he wanted to open our second location. I’m certain my father was ecstatic at the thought and he informed me that I was going with him. By October 1, 1982, Sam’s Meat Market opened and I was there. I was 19 at the time and my brother was 22 and we thought we knew everything there was to know. Honestly, it took a long time for us to learn how to work together. My father learned how to be a great referee and we were forced to learn how to make it work.

By 1989 Ken turned 30 and decided to go back to school, so by 1990 he worked and went to school. That same year I had my first child Pamela, so I worked and took care of my family. By 1993 Ken had completed his masters and was headed off to law school. There were thoughts of selling the business at that time and that’s when I knew, I really knew how much I loved waking up in the morning to go to work. How much I loved the customers and friends that I had acquired. I knew that there was no where else that I’d rather be. Absolutely nothing else that I’d rather do.

In 1994 Ken headed to Seattle University and I had my second child Michelle. Ken came back on Christmas and breaks to help for the first few years. Although I refused to admit it, it was more challenging than I had anticipated. Back then men in the meat business found it difficult to take me seriously. I’m 5’3″ at 110 pounds and although Sam’s had already survived 12 years in business, running it solo was brand new to me.

By 1997 Ken graduated from law school and I had my last child; Parker. Sam’s was going strong in my recollection. I met my next challenge juggling between my work and family. Family was a huge part of my existence and a first priority. I wasn’t receiving the necessary support at home in order to feel complete in either area of my life.

By 2000 I became a single mother with no financial or emotional support from the children’s father. I didn’t even have every other weekend off. People may wonder why Sam’s is closed on Sunday and Monday. Well it’s because I had to figure out a way to spend more time with my family.

I give thanks to my parents and siblings for helping me to raise my children. Also all of my customers and friends who supported my business throughout all of the changes. My kids grew up in the business in one degree or another. My oldest daughter; Pamela and her soon to be husband Matt Duval continue to help create my vision.

Thirty-seven years ago my brother; Ken Sam planted a seed. My father; Wayne Sam supported that idea. About five years ago I knew that Sam’s had outgrown our location of thirty plus years and eighteen months ago we moved into the space we now occupy. My designer, my friend; Lynn Kegan designed my space with his incredible talent and vision. My dream was to have a space that once someone walked through my doors, the rest of the world fall away and that is what I have been gifted with.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m pretty certain that there’s no such thing as a smooth road if one intends to achieve the ultimate of success within their careers, their family life or within themselves. I personally consider challenges or obstacles as opportunities to grow and change and yes I consider that I beautiful thing.

Within the past 37 years, I’ve witnessed a lot of changes in the world, outside of my little space in the world. At one time I held a very unusual position for a female, it was almost unheard of really. Even within my family dynamics, my father had a difficult time trusting that I would be okay. So I pushed myself harder and surrounded myself with people who encouraged, loved and supported me.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sam’s Meat Market – what should we know?
I take great pride in sourcing the highest quality meats available on the Denver market. All of our beef is aged for a minimal of 21 days and we offer a prime beef, a natural alternative beef, a local grass-finished beef and the Snake River Farms Kobe beef. Not to mention we still custom cut all of our meats in house and by hand the way my father had over 50 years ago. I’m proud of the fact that we have kept all of the old fashion practices intact.

We have over 50 feet of fresh meat counter, which is the largest selection I have ever seen housing fresh pork, bison, poultry, deli meats, cheeses and seafood. In my opinion, it’s quite spectacular and I work diligently to ensure that everything that’s displayed is something that I would be proud to have my name on.

Sam’s also has over 120 cubic feet of freezer display that houses a wide variety of exotic meats from around the globe. We carry gator, frog legs, rabbits, elk, venison, yak, turtle, rattlesnake, kangaroo, wild boar, pheasants, quail and the list goes on. This is the attraction that brings people from all over the state to see. I’m quite proud of catering to the more adventuresome, it’s a lot of fun.

We also carry a huge selection of rubs, spices, sauces, oils, peppers, olives and vinegar. Several local artisans show off their crafts in our space and we don’t leave too much room for the imagination. We strive to accompany every taste pallet, Personally, I believe that food has a way of bringing back special moments in time with special loved ones.

With everything that has just been mentioned, there’s absolutely nothing that compares to our clientele. We have the most incredibly loving, supportive and patient clientele any business could dream of. That is what sets us apart from any other business.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I believe it’s important to be passionate in everything you do. Every day before I get to work I’m excited about creating a new masterpiece. Cutting meat and displaying it is like creating an art piece. I know it may sound a little crazy, however, it’s so much fun to put the pieces together and watch it evolve. My daughter; Pamela takes care of all the seafood and I refer to her as the seafood artist.

My team is well rounded and we have a lot of fun creating a special experience for everyone that walks through our doors. We understand the importance of quality backed with service and regardless of who you are and where you came from. You’re important because you took the time to walk through our doors.

Someone leaving satisfied is golden and that’s what I consider success.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 2300 S. Chambers Road #D
    Aurora, Colorado 80014
  • Website: www.samsmeats.com
  • Phone: 303-696-6159
  • Email: info@samsmeats.com
  • Instagram: Sam’s Meat Market
  • Facebook: Sam’s Meat Market
  • Yelp: Sam’s Meat Market

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