Modern Day History of Conger Meat Market
The Conger Meat Market is a live slaughterhouse where animals are butchered on site. The new space which opened in 2017 has USDA certification, which makes it easier for the family owned business to buy meat from local farmers as well!
In 2015, Jeremy & Darcy Johnson bought the former Conger creamery with plans to expand into a larger facility. Their plans came to fruition in October of 2017 when they opened their newly renovated location at 100 William Ave., Conger, MN. The new facility is twice the size of the previous Conger location. Check out the latest article from the Albert Lea Tribune on Conger Meat Market and the Fellers Ranch® brand.
The Johnsons invested in the idea that people like to know where their meat comes from. The Conger Meat Market is a live slaughterhouse where animals are butchered onsite. The new space is USDA certified, which makes it easier for Darcy and Jeremy to buy and sell to local farmers. They can now support the concept of farm to table.
They decided to invest in the business in Conger because that’s where their reputation lives. Both are from the Alden and Conger areas, they’ve seen the trend of businesses closing or leaving their area. But, through the help of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, they received a grant that took three years to complete.
History of Conger Meat Market
Conger Meat Market was started by Ray and Mabel Bohonek on May 1, 1935. Ray was born in Lisov, Czechoslovakia on February 6, 1896. He was trained in the meat-making business in Czechoslovakia and brought the recipes for sausage and bologna with him to America in 1914. Ray and Mabel first settled in Lake Mills, Iowa where he worked in a local meat market. In 1935, they moved to Conger, Minnesota with the intent of building and starting the Conger Meat Market. The first few years were very difficult and they struggled, but persistence paid off, and the business grew.
Ray and Mabel had their fourth child, Milford Bohonek, on August 18th, 1936. Their baby was born above the meat market. Milford worked in the meat market most of his life except for the time he spent in the US Army. When he returned home from the war, he married Beverly Nash from Alden, Minnesota.
Mabel Bohonek passed away in 1966. Shortly after this happened, Milford and Beverly purchased the meat market from their father, Ray Bohonek. Milford and Beverly continued to invest their time and energy into the meat market. They had a child soon after they were married, and in 1982 their daughter Patty Bohonek married Dave Larson of Rochester, MN. Within two years, Dave and Patty moved to Conger to help grow the meat market.
Fifteen years later, and with lots of hard work, Dave and Patty purchased the meat market from Milford and Beverly. After purchasing the business, new kinds of sausages were added, some even award-winning! In 2004, they sold the Conger Meat Market to Jeremy and Darcy Johnson.
Award Winning Meat Market
Award Winning Local Meat Market
In 2019, the U.S. Small Business Administration named Conger Meat Market the 2019 Minnesota Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year. The company was honored at the state’s Small Business Week Awards Luncheon on May 10th in Minneapolis, MN. The Johnsons were nominated because of their commitment to creating jobs in their rural community. They work hard for their community everyday.
The SBA had this to say about Johnsons, “Darcy is deserving of this award due to her perseverance and determination to bring Conger Meat Market to the next level of industry requirements. She has been key in the dedication that it took to go through the long process of becoming a USDA federally licensed facility at a time when several small meat markets are choosing to shut their doors rather than comply with the updated state licensing requirements. As a result, Conger Meat Market has sustained increased sales for processing, retail and shipping of products, and increased customer base and newly expanded locations.”
The Johnsons are avid supporters of local communities and they donate their meat products and processing services to organizations such as the Eagles Club, Lions Club, Ducks Unlimited, the Minnesota Deer Association and Pheasants Forever. They are also active members of their church, where they have served on the council multiple times over the past 20 years.