Customers at Aubrey's Meats in the ByWard Market are upset after the butcher shop stopped accepting vouchers from online coupon retailers, citing financial difficulties.
The butcher shop had previously limited purchases that could be made through websites like Groupon and Kahoot.ca to $50 a customer, saying their inventory could not handle the demand.
Now, they say they won't honour any coupons until May 1st.
The butcher shop said in the statement that when the former owner became ill a year ago, they discovered they had debt in excess of $300,000, about $100,000 of which was owed right away.
To bring in new customers and new revenue, management signed up with online coupon retailers to bring business in fast.
Groupon and its many imitator sites work by offering deep discounts on goods and services from local merchants once enough customers have signed up for the deal. In theory, the business gets to reach a new group of customers who they hope become repeat customers. Customers get greatly reduced prices and the online coupon seller gets a percentage of sales.
85 to 90 % of customers are coupon holders
"Coupons were an easier way to help us not close," said butcher Joseph Hutt. "Unfortunately we didn't anticipate the demand, people came in right away looking to buy $200 worth of meat."
Hutt said about 85 to 90 per cent of the company's customers are currently coupon holders.
"One of the reasons to institute [a] $50 limit was to help keep stock on the shelf, as big a business as we are doing right now, we don't have the supply," said Hutt.
Hutt said after May 1st, the shop will honour coupons, but the $50 limit will remain in place.
$55 coupon for $175 in meat
Rob Lussier said he drove in from Barrhaven to get some meat for a meat pie and was disappointed when told the shop wouldn't be honouring a $55 voucher he bought from Kahoot that was worth $175 in meat.
He said he bought ten of the vouchers when they were first sold and has cashed out seven.
"We've done well, the meat is great," said Lussier. "But it's still disappointing, I have four kids. I'll go to Wal-Mart to get some meat I guess."
Staff at the store say progress is being made in paying off the debts and that the shop will remain open.
Hutt said he understands the frustration of customers.
"Right now their patience is being tried and for what it's worth I apologize," he said.