Alward's Market an old-fashioned icon in Hale

Hale -- In 1948, Jerry Wyatt built a smokehouse when he realized he could double his money smoking ham, bacon and sausage. They're still doing it the same, old-fashioned way.

"We smoke in an old-fashioned wood-fired smokehouse where most of your smokehouses nowadays are gas-fired," said owner Bob Alward, owner of Alward's Market. "Ours is old-fashioned wood smoke.

"This is our finished product which is a smoked belly," he said. "That's your bacon."

Alward was trained by Wyatt and, in 1978, Alward took over the business. Alward's is most famous for thick bacon slices and the slogan "makin' bacon."

"Normally, we have at least 100 pounds of bacon sliced ahead," Alward said. "Bacon sausage, bacon burger, fresh sausages, fresh brats, bacon brats | that's unique too. I mean, anybody can make bacon brats, but it doesn't have Alward's Bacon in it."

This small-town meat market is not only known all over Michigan, but outside the state.

"They say, 'Oh, Hale, that's where the bacon is made. That's where the bacon store is' "

There's much more than bacon at Alward's.

"We make a lot of chicken jerky, pork jerky and turkey jerky," Alward said. "Beef jerky is considered the No. 1 item.

"We did almost 50 hams for Christmas."

The number of customers at Alward's has gone down since the recession in a town that relies on tourism.

"All the signs show things are starting to pick up a little bit," Alward said. "But it's gonna take a while for Michigan to come back."

To order their products, go to Alward's website .

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