Categories: Arts & Culture

Jerky vendor is not what you expect

Andy's Beef Jerky owner Heidi Miranda and her husband Mike Street

“Jerky here, get your beef jerky!”

Imagine the voice that’s bellowing that sales call out across the busy St. Albert Farmer’s Market. Heidi Miranda would be willing to put a bet on the fact that you’re thinking of a man’s voice.

But she’s also willing to bet you’d be just as happy with her jerky as anyone else’s.

And yet, when selling the beef jerky, she’s found that despite being the owner of Andy’s Beef Jerky and the one who makes the product, people are much more willing to buy from her husband, Mike Street, who helps her sell.

“I think people associate beef jerky with cowboys and men. That’s it. It’s a masculine thing,” she said. “Women do the cupcakes and the sweet things, and this is a masculine thing.”

And watching the booth for a few hours, what she says may be true. People curious about the jerky come ask Street about it instead of Miranda on a fairly consistent basis.

“It took me by total surprise,” she said. “The two of us can stand out there and say word for word the exact same thing, the same pitch, and they’ll always go to Mike. Not always, but the majority.”

She’s been in the jerky business since 2009, first selling out of a storefront on 118 Avenue in Edmonton before deciding she would prefer the life of a roving vendor – and “micro-living” in a fifth-wheel trailer near Gibbons.

“I didn’t like staying inside,” Miranda said. “I like this meeting people, being outdoors and travelling to all the markets.”

She uses her friend Andy’s recipe for the jerky – hence the name – and still produces the jerky at the 118 Avenue location. All the meat comes from a rancher friend near Red Deer, and it’s all made using an eye of round cut.

Andy’s Beef Jerky has several flavours, some of which tend to be more popular than others depending on the location. But one flavour she’s just introduced appears to be rapidly gaining popularity: Maple.

“It tastes like pancakes, bacon and syrup,” Street tells a prospective customer while offering a sample. The customer responds with an “Mmm” before buying a pack.

He explained he has seen the power of this jerky in action, when he opened up a pack on a flight recently. Several other passengers and airline staff caught the scent and their interest was piqued.

“I even sold some to the stewardess,” he laughed.

Miranda added an important part of her business is helping with fundraising and supporting community initiatives. In May, for example, $1 from each package sold went to help with Fort McMurray fire relief efforts.

And every day, members of the military or emergency services professions are entitled to a 10 per cent discount.

“That’s our contribution, as little as it is, to say thanks for everything you do. They don’t get paid enough for what they do,” she said.

Doug Neuman: