“It Was The Least I Could Do”
03/21/2017 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey
Gallery: A Neighborhood Grocer Returns To Delcambre [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
A Neighborhood Grocer Returns To Delcambre
By Scott Brazda
Why do I love Delcambre?”
It took me longer to type these very words than it did for Shawn Sigur to answer my question.
“Delcambre is a family community full of people who stick together. If there’s a benefit, everybody goes to it to help the person in need. That’s what Delcambre is all about. We’re a tight-knit community where people care about one another and look out for one another.”
Shawn Sigur, 46, lives it and feels the love each and every day. It’s a feeling that overcame him a fairly young age. “I grew up in Lydia, but then when I was 13, we moved to Delcambre. That’s when I learned I could love a community and its people.”
Shawn Sigur’s loved affair with the town of Delcambre was manifested in other ways as well: it was there he met his high school sweetheart, Adele, who has been “my partner-in-crime for 21 years,” laughs Sigur. In those days, Delcambre residents shopped at Leblanc’s and then Champagne’s, where Sigur eventually worked as a bag boy. Back in the mid-1980s, the 17-year-old Sigur had no aspirations to be in the grocery business. “It was just a job. I had absolutely no thoughts about making this a career.”
Still, Sigur’s jobs seemed to follow that path, that of a neighborhood grocer. In fact, it was at the store called B&K that he got interested in cutting meat, an interest that he took to Simoneaud’s and then to Super One Foods in New Iberia. “I ran the meat department for, oh, the last four years of my decade over there. I learned so much at Super One. Loved it there.”
But after 10 years of working for someone else, meat cutter Shawn Sigur was ready for another title or two: Boss. Owner. “Ah, Shawn’s Cajun Meats,” he recalls of his Lafayette store. “I wanted more; I wanted something different. And so we opened, with me not knowing anything about how to run a grocery store. At times it was just horrible, very difficult, because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But in the bigger picture, it was a great learning experience, the best learning experience.”
For four years, Shawn’s Cajun Meats struggled to find its footing in the Hub City; then, Adele got wind of an opportunity back in their home town. “One day she tells me, ‘We’re from Delcambre, and there’s a little building, a flower shop that’s closing and becoming available, and the owner wants to rent it to you.’” The Sigurs moved home, and on June 30, 2009, a meat market bearing Shawn’s name opened for business.
“It’s what I wanted to do; it’s what I was meant to do. I just had it in my heart. I’m a meat cutter.”
But in Sigur’s time away from Delcambre, there had been a change in the grocery business in that... there was NO grocery business. Hurricane Rita had washed away Champagne’s, and when Acadiana dried out, no grocery retailer stood up to take its place. Delcambre had no grocery store to call its own. “People had to go to Champagne’s in Erath to the west, or to a store in New Iberia off to the east, and there was no convenience anymore. Plus, there’s nothing like having that community grocery store.”
Jump ahead a few years, and while the meat market was finding its way, opportunity knocked yet again. Seems that Iberia Parish had some grant money available to worthy applicants, and that desire to “do something more” came back around for Shawn and Adele.
“Nobody, from an outside retail chain, was ever gonna’ build a grocery store in Delcambre,” says Sigur. “If it was ever going to happen, it was going to have to be done by someone whose heart was in Delcambre, who knew and cared about the area. We talked about it, we prayed about it and we got it. We were able to do the store.”
The Sigurs were approved for an $800,000 grant, but there was one stipulation: the new business, a full-fledged, 9,000-square foot grocery store called Shawn’s Cajun Meats and Grocery had to open its doors and keep them open for a couple of months before the grant would be paid. Those dollars arrived in late January of 2017 and were most appreciated by the Sigurs. “The $800,000 helped a lot, and we were blessed to have the opportunity. The grant was the only way we could really do it, and now look: It’s a beautiful store and, I think, money well-spent.”
The Sigurs’ efforts have not gone unrecognized by the movers and shakers in Iberia Parish. “Shawn and Adele Sigur are great people, and their investment in the future of Delcambre and Iberia Parish was a godsend after years without a grocery,” says Mike Tarantino, President & CEO of Iberia Industrial Development. “It’s where, not only can you get all the things you need closer to home, but you can see a neighbor or grab a quick lunch or help a charity. It’s a true symbol of the resilience of a community. It’s a ‘we don’t quit, we rebuild’ kind of attitude.”
“It was the least I could do,” agrees Sigur. “We owed it to Delcambre, and Delcambre needed it. At the end of the day, that’s why we do what we do.”
Shawn’s Cajun Meats and Grocery opened its doors on November 2, 2016, and as you journey through the store, you quickly learn there’s a little bit of everything: Deli. Plate lunches. Meat department. Liquor. Produce. Frozen foods. And amazing people on both sides of the counter.
“Our customers are so grateful, and it’s humbling to hear so many of them say, ‘Thank you so much for opening,’” explains Sigur. “And I think it’s not just having a store back in the area, but also because we’re helping the economy a bit, too. We have 35 employees who come in here nearly every day, and do whatever it takes to help our customers. It’s a great team we’ve got here.”
With only a few months under its belt, Shawn’s Meat Market and Grocery has a way to go. A tweak here, a tweak there, an adjustment on the front end and another on the back... it’s all part of the growth and evolution of a new business. “We’ve got a long way to go, and it’ll take a little while,” analyzes Shawn. “But we’ve got great workers, we’re blessed, and we’re all learning every step of the way. It takes a lot of patience, but it’s very exciting, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
Although he is an extremely humble guy, Shawn Sigur is also very confident in the products he provides for his customer. “It’s like the way things were when we were younger: you wanted ground chuck, you got ground chuck. No fillers, nothing like that; just high-quality, top-of-the-line meat. I’m confident you’ll love what you get here.”
Ever hear of ‘syrup sausage’? That’s something that is quickly becoming one of Sigur’s signature products. “I love ‘Steen’s Cane Syrup.’ I mixed it with some sausage, and asked a dedicated customer to take it to her dad’s, put it on the grill and try it. She came back and said, ‘Don’t change a thing.’”
Top-of-the-line, and going the extra mile, continues Sigur, is what it’s all about. In fact, doing his very best at a job he loves... in a community he loves... is the only thing that matters. “Be consistent in anything I do, on our shelves, behind the counter and most importantly, with our customers,” believes Sigur.
“And don’t just go through the motions, either. If you’re not gonna’ be great at what you do, you’ll be like everyone else, and that’s not what I want, not at all.”