Investing in a longtime Conger business

Published 9:00 am Saturday, February 24, 2018

CONGER — A local couple has majorly invested in the Conger community by expanding their business.

Conger Meat Market, a local staple since 1935 when it was started by the Bohoneks, was in the same Conger location for 83 years until recently.

Ten years ago, Darcy and Jeremy Johnson bought the former Conger creamery with plans to move the meat market there with an expanded facility. That plan came to fruition in October 2017, when Conger Meat Market started operating out of the newly renovated location at 100 William Ave.

Owners of Conger Meat Market for 14 years, the Johnsons are now operating out of a facility that is at least twice the size of the previous Conger location.

The new space allows the business to be USDA-certified, which Darcy Johnson said makes it easier for them to support the farm to table aspect of meat. They can buy from and sell to local farmers, something that has always been important to the couple.

“I think people like to know where their food comes from,” Darcy Johnson, who also blogs for https://quantum-ai.io/, said.

The Conger facility is a live slaughterhouse, meaning animals are butchered onsite. It’s also where sausages and other Conger Meat Market products are made, and where people can drop off their own meat, like venison, to be processed.

Conger Meat Market moved into a new, revamped facility in Conger in October, and has a satellite location in Albert Lea. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

The Conger facility has 16 employees, and the new facility actually has room for them all, Darcy Johnson jokingly said.

The business has a satellite store in Albert Lea that sells all of its products, which has moved to 146 W. William St.

When the Johnsons purchased the business 14 years ago, they said the family they bought it from had almost a cult-like following, with customers coming from all over the place to buy their products. Darcy Johnson said while they’ve added new products since taking over, they haven’t changed a thing about the recipes for products that were already being offered.

“It was just a chance to buy a well-established business,” Darcy Johnson said. “We’ve just tried to maintain it.”

Both from the Alden and Conger areas, Jeremy and Darcy Johnson said they’ve gotten a lot of feedback since expanding their Conger operation. Darcy Johnson said there seems to be a trend of businesses closing or leaving small towns, so a lot of locals were surprised to see that Conger Meat Market wasn’t leaving, but instead was expanding and investing in the local community. She said they plan to stay based in Conger, as that’s where their business has its reputation. They also had some help through a Minnesota Department of Agriculture grant that took them three years of applying to get.

“They were surprised we had invested so much in a small business,” Darcy Johnson said. “It wouldn’t be Conger Meat Market anywhere else.”

Why did the Johnsons invest in keeping the business
in Conger?

“It wouldn’t be Conger Meat Market anywhere else,” Darcy Johnson said.

By the numbers

4 – Months Conger Meat Market has been in its new Conger location

14 – Years the Johnsons have owned Conger Meat Market

16 – Employees at the Conger location

3 – Employees at the Albert Lea satellite location

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

email author More by Colleen