Don’t let the sign on the front of the building fool you.
Certainly, the new Beef Jerky Outlet in Flowood offers beef jerky in a mind-numbing, 200-plus variety of flavors — from traditional sweet, hot and teriyaki to Moonshine, Boiled Crawfish and 3 Beer BBQ Rub.
However, the Beef Jerky Outlet that opened about a month ago in an outparcel of the Lakeland Commons Shopping Center offers much, much more. In addition to beef, the store’s inventory includes, chicken, bacon, turkey and salmon jerky. Looking for something a little wilder still? It also has venison, elk and even bison jerky, to name a few.
There is also food for the vegetarian, including fried green beans and dried fruit chips.
In addition, the Flowood Beef Jerky Outlet offers other non-jerky items such as cheeses, snack sticks, nuts, candies, marinades, seasonings, jams and jellies, sauces, pork rinds and more.
“We have been thrilled with the early response,” said Jennifer Vancor, co-owner of the Beef Jerky Outlet in Flowood along with her husband, William. “We have something for everybody here. The other day, I was serving a dump truck operator and his wife while a guy waited in line who had driven up in a sports car.”
Indeed, corporate leaders of the Beef Jerky Outlet point to data that show jerky is on the rise as a tasty, yet healthy, option with consumers across the country — Chicago-based IRI found jerky consumption jumped more than 45 percent from 2009-2013, ringing in at $1.24 billion today.
Beef Jerky Outlet’s success seems to back that up. From its first store in Destin, Florida, there are now six founder-owned stores and 25 franchise stores, stretching from Colorado to West Virginia, with 33 more scheduled to open over the next 18 months.
The Vancors are banking on those rising sales. The Flowood location is the culmination of the couple’s dream to start a business close to home. William, a retail sales coordinator for a large telecommunication firm and volunteer firefighter, is a native of the Rankin County city of Pelahatchie. Jennifer, a special agent with the federal government, grew up in the Ross Barnett Reservoir area where the couple resides today with their two daughters.
“We were looking for something else to do — to start a new business,” Jennifer said. “We had looked and looked and looked.”
Then, an old school chum from Rankin County who had opened a Beef Jerky Outlet in Louisiana contacted Jennifer.
“William looked at it, and said, ‘Wow, we could do this. This could be fun,’” Jennifer remembered.
The Vancors chose Flowood for their franchise because it would make opening and managing the new store easier. However, they also wanted to be a part of their community.
To that end, the Beef Jerky Outlet is currently offering the Beef Jerky Outlet Treadmill Challenge. Shoppers are asked to walk on an in-store treadmill wearing a firefighter’s turnout jacket and tank. The Vancors are donating $5 for every one who takes the challenge to the 3rd Annual 9/11 Half Marathon, which will be run Sept. 7 and will benefit the state’s burn center in Brandon as well as the Reservoir Fire Department.
In addition, runners are receiving a 10 percent discount on Beef Jerky Outlet purchases through race day, and the store’s staff will hand out free snacks to racers at the finish line.
“We love everything about Flowood and Mississippi, and we want to bring something really special and unique to all of our family and friends who make this area the best place on the planet to grow up and live,” Jennifer said.
While community-minded, the Vancors see the Beef Jerky Outlet as a money-maker. They have already purchased the Beef Jerky Outlet franchise rights for Pearl, Southaven and Tupelo. The couple is still formulating plans for opening those new stores, but they are buoyed by the response to the Flowood store and the marketing statistics.
“People ask me, ‘Who is your customer,’” Jennifer said. “I answer, ‘Anyone who eats.’”