Couple juggles popular smoked meat business in Kaleden with family responsibilities

It’s a Wednesday morning and customers are lined up at Doug’s Homestead on Highway 97 in Kaleden to buy beef jerky before it sells out.

Their jerky is so popular that customers send in pictures for the wall of themselves in distant corners of the world wearing shirts saying: “Keep calm, the jerky’s on,” or “I love Doug’s Homestead.”

Japan, the Arctic Circle, Everest Base Camp, Philippines, New Zealand, London, Paris, and even Kazakhstan.

Jerky is one of the top three products, but the most popular is the bacon, say Brent and Linette McClelland, the couple who have run the business since the end of 2007. Pepperoni is the other product in the top three.

“We specialize in smoked meats,” says Linette. “That’s our thing. We’re not like your average meat shop.”

“We’re more of a sausage kitchen,” says Brent.

Matt Leyes and Ravina Johal, owners of Black Sage Butcher in Oliver, show some of their meat products. (Richard McGuire Photo)
Brent and Linette McClelland have owned and operated Doug's Homestead since the end of 2007, first near Hedley, and then in Kaleden. (Richard McGuire Photo)
Brent and Linette McClelland jointly run and work together at Doug's Homestead. They do that while juggling a family. (Richard McGuire Photo)

But that description doesn’t cover the gamut of meat and complementary products Doug’s Homestead sells. There are fresh meats such as steaks, pork chops, ham, sausages and more, as well as frozen bison burgers, sausages and meat pies. Complementary products include cheeses, pickles, mustards, and even perogies.

Although they’ve settled on one flavour of jerky, with a pepper taste, they have nine varieties of pepperoni with flavours ranging from sweet and mild to hot and spicy.

As Brent and Linette juggle running the popular business with the responsibility of being parents to two active teenage girls, they are grateful to have three staff members to mind the store as they shuttle the girls to sporting or music activities.

Susan Whitehead helps in the front and brothers Liam and Hayden Zieske work in the back and smokehouses – where they’ve apprenticed.

Linette and Brent McClelland (second and third from left), owners of Doug's Homestead, are happy to have good employees. At left is Susan Whitehead, who helps with the front, and at right are brothers Liam and Hayden Zieske, who have apprenticed and work as butchers. (Richard McGuire Photo)

But nobody on staff is named “Doug.”

Doug Stricker ran Doug’s Homestead for about 15 years just outside Hedley, but he retired at the end of 2007, when the McClellands took over.

“I was looking for a career change,” said Brent, now 51, who previously worked as a welder and pile driver. “My wife was looking for a career change, and [Doug] wanted to retire. So we started negotiating from there. And that got us out of the Lower Mainland.”

Linette, now 46, had worked on new store development for Starbucks Coffee Canada, and has spent much of her career in customer service.

The couple was originally from Port Coquitlam where they grew up about six blocks from each other. Neither had any background in butchering, but they worked under Doug for about a year and a half and learned the ropes.

“It was just like picking up anything else,” says Brent. “It had its learning curves, but we figured it out.”

Brent McClelland, who owns Doug's Homestead with his wife Linette, shows a rack used to dry beef jerky, a popular product. (Richard McGuire Photo)

It was a time of major change in both their lives.

“We got married and bought the business and got pregnant all within one year,” says Linette. “That was 2007. We opened up the business in 2008. And then I had my other one [girl] 16 months later, so it was a busy time.”

Initially they operated the business outside Hedley, leasing the store from Doug. But after a while, he ended the lease so he could focus on retirement.

So the McClellands began searching for a new location “everywhere from Osoyoos to Summerland,” before putting in an offer on the old Kaleden restaurant. They wanted a place they could afford to purchase and renovate.

A refrigerated display case contains many of the meat products sold by Doug's Homestead. This includes sausages, bacon, steaks and cheeses. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The location is next to a busy stretch of highway about nine minutes south of Penticton – a convenient stop for the many commuters. It’s easy for northbound vehicles to pull into Doug’s, but it’s more challenging for southbound vehicles. Unless traffic is light, it’s safer to turn around on Kaleden’s Lakehill Road and double back.

Saturdays are their busiest days, and the summers are especially busy, with tourists being a significant part of their business. Customers come from all age groups from families with younger children to seniors who’ve retired in the Okanagan.

“Our demographic for our customer base is just all over the map,” says Brent.

The couple uses social media – a website, Facebook and Instagram – to promote the business, but Brent admits they’ve sometimes let it slide, and their biggest promoters are their happy customers.

“We’ve literally grown the business the old-fashioned way,” he said. “It’s all word-of-mouth.”

Fans of Doug's Homestead have sent photos from around the world of themselves wearing Doug's promotional clothing. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Asked what makes their products special, Linette replies with three words: “Quality, quality, quality.”

They start with high quality meat, sourced from smaller abattoirs. Much of the beef comes from northern British Columbia and Alberta, while the pork comes from the Chilliwack area.

Customers can see the product being made, with the cutting room and smoke houses within view.

“You can see exactly where we’re making it and cutting it,” says Linette. “We don’t hide anything.”

They also provide personal service and get to know their customers.

“A lot of people ask how to cook things,” says Brent. “A lot of our customer base ends up almost like friends.”

They will phone customers to advise them when a product they want is back in stock.

Running a family business has its challenges, in addition to shuttling their daughters to extracurricular activities.

“We always say the machine doesn’t sleep,” says Brent. “There’s always something going on, if it’s controlling the smoke houses, loading and emptying it, worrying about compressors, worrying about delivery times.”

Brent says communication is the key to making a family business work.

“Working with your husband as [business] partners has its challenges,” adds Linette. “But we’re still married. We’ve been through a renovation, kids, a shop and we’re doing OK.”

Story and photographs by Richard McGuire

Doug’s Homestead

224 Highway 97

Kaleden, BC  V0H 1K0