Farmer praised for 'incredible' 24/7 butcher in small Aussie town: 'This is awesome'

A 24-hour butcher shop has opened in regional NSW and other stores are expected to follow the business model.

From the front it may look like any ordinary butcher, but this unsuspecting store in regional NSW has one major difference to nearly every other across the country.

There's no staff inside.

Wolki Butchery in Albury's Lavington operates through a membership system where customers use a code to enter the store and scan meats through an app to purchase.

And while it may strike some as bit of a gimmick, one trailblazing Aussie farmer says the no-staff butchery is a sign of the times and is just the latest step in his goal to promote sustainable farming across the country.

The butcher's storefront in Albury.
Wolki Butchery in Albury is one of a kind. Source: Wolki Farm

Jacob Wolki is the face behind what is Australia's first 24/7 self-service butchery and has a multi-species direct-to-market farm.

"As the farm grew it became very apparent that the local butchers that were packaging my meats, they weren't able to handle my volume so I knew I had to buy my own butchery to be able to run that internally to keep up with my demand," he explained to Yahoo News Australia.

With two butchers operating back of house processing his meat for custom orders, Mr Wolki was desperate to get use of the retail space out front.

But with every spare cent going back into his farm, the 32-year-old said paying the wages for someone to run the store was "a massive barrier".

Fridges and freezers inside the Wolki store.
Members are able to buy products through an app. Source: Wolki Farm

It was at this point the idea for the no-staff butchery was born, and $5000 and a new security system later, it was open to the public. "It's like a 24-hour gym," Mr Wolki pointed out.

And while he says some in the community think the idea is "crazy", he says it's generally had a warm welcome.

He has about 250 members who have signed up, with those wanting to join required to visit the farm to see exactly where their food is coming from.

Some in the community feared Mr Wolki had been "too trusting" with customers but he says he has yet to experience any theft.

He also dismisses any suggestion he may be removing jobs from the sector.

"There was never going to be a job in the first place as it was never going to be viable to create a job for somebody," he said, noting he and his family employ 50 people across their business interests.

Sharing video of his store to TikTok over the weekend, Mr Wolki received a wave of support, with users hailing the store as "incredible" while saying he was "an inspiration to business owners".

No-staff transactions coming 'really quickly'

Retail expert Gary Mortimer from Queensland University of Technology told Yahoo News Australia smart retail technology and frictionless transactions will soon be widespread in Australia.

"I think it's going to happen really quickly. The big hesitation retailers have is around loss and security but [Mr Wolki] has clearly identified a way around it as have other companies... who know who is in a store at any given time and cameras detect what you take," he said.

But Professor Mortimer, who has just returned from the NRF Retail Big Show in New York where such technology took centre stage, said while it tackles staffing issues, businesses should be careful as feedback indicates Aussies want "high tech and high touch".

"Aussies certainly want to engage with retail smart technology if it makes their lives easier but they still want the human element," he said.

"Customers may want to talk to a butcher nine to five about how to cook it, what's the best cut of meat, but outside of that I think they want the convenience of being able to go in and grab it 24 hours a day."

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