Port Fairy butcher enjoys a career on the chopping block

IT doesn’t take long into a conversation with Nick Sheehan to understand why he has managed to achieve things beyond his years.

The 23-year-old is the owner of Sheehan’s Meats in Port Fairy, the iconic tourist town’s only stand-alone butcher shop.

Mr Sheehan just celebrated his third anniversary as owner of the shop, a significant achievement he has taken in his stride.

“I like keeping busy. I’m always looking for something to do so that’s why I was keen to have a go at taking on the business,” Mr Sheehan said.

It is that “can do” attitude that has driven Mr Sheehan to take on such a big business venture at a young age and make a success of it.

His working career had humble origins, leaving school early to take up an apprenticeship with the town’s then butcher Shaun Murrihy.

“I left school when I was 15. It’s not that I didn’t like it and I got OK grades but I just wanted to get out there and get into work. I was lucky that when I left school I had a couple of options for an apprenticeship — as a bricklayer or a butcher — and I chose to go with being a butcher.” 

Mr Sheehan quickly showed a skill for the trade and became an indispensable member of the team at Murrihy’s Meats.

The completion of his four-year apprenticeship coincided with Mr Murrihy’s decision to step away from the butcher business and he gave his young prodigy the first choice of taking the business on.

The decision to do so was a challenge Mr Sheehan accepted with relish, quickly putting in the hard work needed to make the venture a success.

It had the potential to be a daunting task but Mr Sheehan approached it with plenty of enthusiasm and support. 

“All the feedback I got when I started three years ago was really positive, there was no one saying I shouldn’t do it.

“I had so much support from the local community and I think that is the beauty of living in a place like Port Fairy. It is a tight-knit community and people want to see each other succeed.”

With Port Fairy now one of Victoria’s most popular tourist towns, Sheehan’s Meats is currently easing down from its busiest time of the year — the summer holiday period.

During the festive season it is not uncommon for Mr Sheehan to work 90 hours a week to meets the demand for Christmas meats and summer barbecues.

And while the summer months are frantic, the growth of Port Fairy means Mr Sheehan and his staff are kept busy all year-round.

“The town is getting busier all the time. No matter what time of the year it is there are always people here visiting and there is a strong local trade as well.

“It is always a challenge running your business but the support I get from everyone in the community makes it a lot easier.”

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