They say that when one door closes another one opens, and that has certainly been the case for Mathew Mauger.
The third-generation butcher shut his well-known Burrawang store last week, which has been run by a member of the Mauger family for almost 50 years.
But this week he's behind the counter at Oxley Butchery in Bowral, which Mauger's Meats has just taken over. (Their Moss Vale store continues unchanged.)
"Marty offered me the chance to buy his shop and I jumped at it," said Mathew, referring to Oxley Butchery owner Martin Nonnenmacher.
"I was just sitting at home one day and Marty messaged me to ask if I wanted to buy some equipment he had for sale.
"I said 'Yeh, and anything else you want to sell just let me know,' and he said, 'Actually, how about the shop?'"
The Burrawang store - established by Mathew's grandfather Joe in 1972, then run for 45 years by his father John - made a name for itself by selling high quality meat grown on their own farm on the edge of Robertson. It was still going well, but the building required maintenance and they were close to outgrowing it.
"Seven years ago we opened the Moss Vale store as Burrawang is out of the way for everyone," he said.
"But we knew we always wanted to get to Bowral - we were just waiting for the right moment.
"Oxley popped it's head up at the right time."
For Mathew's father John, who started in the Burrawang shop at 16, took over at 18 when his father had a heart attack, and ran it (and a catering business, along with wife Vicki) for decades, shutting the door at Burrawang wasn't the emotional experience many have expected it to be for him.
"I don't know - it hasn't affected me because we put in succession plans and Mat had taken over, so we've had time to realise we weren't there any more," John said.
"The bigger thing for me was to shut the catering business we had for 30 years - we worked all week in the shop then all weekend doing parties. It left a big hole."
Since handing the business over to Mat seven years ago, John has focused on the farm, making changes in line with biodynamic principles, opening a farm stay and running paddock to plate tours (with the latter two severely affected by COVID-19).
Good soil, said John, is where good meat comes from, and he should know, having been working on the connection between the two his whole life.
"I rolled my first tractor when I was four years old," John said, laying claim to his deep farming roots.
"I wasn't driving, just sitting in it, but I knocked it out of gear.
"It ran back, tilted, then the whole tractor tipped on me, and four blokes lifted it off me.
"I was pinned by the arms and legs but my body was protected by the tractor seat."
Fortunately he was able to go on to teach the farm and butchery skills to his family, with Mathew claiming to have 'broken up' lambs at the age of five.
"I'm guessing I was highly supervised," Mathew said.
"You learn pretty quick not to cut yourself."
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Oxley Butchery won't display new signage for a while yet until the reins are handed over completely.
"We don't want to take away from the Oxley name as they've done such a good job for so long," said Mathew.
"We share the same principles - to sell really good meat at good prices.
"The main difference is that we have the ability to grow and sell our own product."
The family connection will continue in Bowral, with Mathew bringing in his sister Nicole to help in the shop.
And although the grandchildren are still small, John hopes at least one of them will pick up the family business in due time.
"I hope to plant the seed of farming life in the grandkids, if they're interested, and the legacy can continue," said John.
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