Oliver's Meat Market in Denver survives the pandemic, nears 100 years

Jim and Rich Oliver have been coming to work at their family meat market on Denver’s Sixth Avenue for nearly 50 years now.

They started out sweeping floors sometime in junior high, for maybe $1 an hour, if memory serves them. But the brothers don’t spend too much time these days reminiscing about the past or even worrying about the future, for that matter.

Their fourth-generation Oliver’s Meat Market turned 98 over Memorial Day weekend, and it’s not going anywhere, the Olivers assure us. This is the kind of business that stays constant through booms, wartimes and recessions, and even a pandemic.

Over the past year, Oliver’s saw more customers as restaurants closed and larger grocery stores’ stocks dwindled.

“We try to stay constant so people know what to expect,” Jim said. “We’ve got to let people know that they can count on us being here.”

Here they are, at the corner of Sixth and Williams, six days a week from 6 or 7 in the morning until 7 at night, after closing. Oliver’s has always been a landmark along Sixth Avenue, though it’s lived at three locations within a mile stretch of its current location.

Jim and Rich aren’t training the next generation of Oliver kids to take the business over, they say, though they do have two full-time staffers, meat cutters Walter James and Will Malinowski.

The small team sells meats from tomahawk steaks to oxtails, delicacies from veal sweetbreads to frog legs, plus some 40 different house-made sausages, cured meats, stocks, sauces and more specialty items.

“We stay all local, all Colorado beef, pork and lamb. If you have the best in your own backyard, why are you going elsewhere?” Jim said, adding, “We were doing that before it was cool to (source locally); that’s just how we always operate.”

As for keeping a business and their family, supplier and customer relationships alive for nearly a century, the Olivers have some words of wisdom.

“We stick with the people we know,” Jim said. “You need stability, need to know the product you’re getting, and don’t want to be taking chances all the time just because somebody’s a couple of pennies cheaper. It’s not how you do it.”

If you go: Oliver’s Meat Market is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at 1718 E. Sixth Ave. in Denver. For more information, call 303-733-4629 or visit oliversmeatmarketllc.com.

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