Fifty years a butcher: a Devine life

Photo: Vince Devine by Jeff ‘The Devine Mr D’ Dawson.

Ross Kendall

Vince Devine has been selling top quality meat to locals and newcomers alike for the last 50 years, including running Devine Quality Meats in Mullumbimby for the last 30 years.

Vince got his start in the trade in May 1970 when he was apprenticed to Knights, a butchery in Lismore that employed more than 22 people. 

‘There are not too many big shops like that around now,’ he said.

Before long he was sent to work in the sister business in Ballina, and went back and forth between the two shops for five years. At that point he was asked to join a colleague who was opening a new butcher shop – Fawcett’s Butcher, on Mullumbimby’s main road.

Vince was born and bred in the Main Arm valley just outside Mullum, and with his wife of 43 years, Karen, has brought up three children on their family farm just kilometres from where he was raised.

‘It was good to get a job in Mullumbimby because it meant a lot less driving. I did all my driving in an EH Holden,’ he said.

Thirty years ago he started his own business, Devine Quality Meats, on Stuart St behind The Middle Pub. 

The shop employs five butchers, and Vince attributes its longevity to delivering consistent quality and service to his customers, even though the area has seen plenty of change across the decades.

‘Good quality keeps you there,’ he said.

Devine Meats does a range of value-added, pre-prepared meats but, ‘generally people are still looking for the more traditional cuts,’ he said.

As a rule, Devine Meats takes advantage of its rural location to source meat from local farms. 

‘It’s good to know the farm where your cattle are coming from; how they have been treated and fed. Local cattle are all top quality, we source as much local as we can,’ he said. He used to be able to source cattle from as close as Main Arm, now they come from the Nimbin and Kyogle areas.

Like most local businesses Devine Quality Meats was hit hard when Woolworths opened in Mullumbibmy, roughly eight years ago.

‘Thirty per cent they knocked us. We were down. You can’t blame the customers, it is just so convenient to shop there and get everything at once, especially if you have three kids in the car,’ he said.

The business has only really bounced back to its former levels in the last few months with the onset of COVID-19.

‘That’s the positive side of it, people have time to cook at home, and all the restaurants and takeaways have been closed. There has also been a lot of parking available and that has helped us too – they realised, ‘Yes, we do have a local butcher shop in town!’ he said.

When retirement is mentioned Vince’s eyes light up. ‘It’s getting closer,’ he chuckles.

‘But I still enjoy it, when I don’t anymore, I’ll know I’ve done my bit’.

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