Ballard Meats & Seafood, the family-owned business that butchered and sold meat for more than 40 years in Manchester, has closed.

Todd Ballard, the manager of the meat processor and retail store opened by his parents in 1972, said the rising cumulative costs of operating the business made staying open infeasible. He announced the closing on the company’s Facebook page late Thursday.

“I truly am going to miss the people because these are people that I’ve known for three generations,” said Ballard, who’s been working at the business for most of his life. “They rely on me, and I rely on them. It’s a relationship.”

Ballard said the decision to close was made by his parents, Kenneth and Carol Ballard, who own the store. His parents declined to comment on the closure, but Carol Ballard passed on a message through her son that she wanted to thank all of the business’ customers.

“If it wasn’t for the customers, the business never would have grown anyway,” Todd Ballard said.

More than 200 people commented on the business’ Facebook page post announcing the closure within 24 hours, many lamenting the news and telling the Ballards that they’ll be missed.

Kenneth Ballard first opened the business to process deer killed by hunters, but it later expanded to the full retail store, his son said. But recently, the costs of maintaining the aging building and equipment were becoming too much. Todd Ballard said the business wouldn’t have been able to afford the improvements needed.

That on top of the other rising costs to run the business, including electricity, food prices and insurance, led to the decision to close, he said.

Ballard estimated that the cost of beef had gone up by at least a third in the last year and a half, and the jump in electricity prices last winter hurt the electricity-dependent business, he said. The business’ electricity bill ran north of $2,000 most months, Ballard said. Last winter, Ballard shut down a cooler and a freezer to save money.

“Business is all about if you can make it work or not,” he said.

Ballard said he doesn’t know what he’ll do next, but that he’s not short on ambition. Besides Ballard, the business had five employees.

The retail store had been closed all week, and Ballard and other employees were cleaning and clearing out the store located on Myrtle Street on Friday.

Steven Doak, a longtime customer from Augusta who estimated he had been going to the store for at least 25 years, said it was one of his favorite places to visit, and he guessed thousands of other customers are also saddened by the closing.

“The thing that kept me going back time and time again was the service, their service,” Doak said. “I think the difference is they really cared what they were doing. They really cared about their customers.”

Doak, 64, an instructor at Central Maine Community College in Auburn, said one time he and a group of friends shot a moose on a Saturday and called up the store to see when they could get the animal butchered. The group wasn’t going to be able to make it to the business before it closed at 5 p.m., but the employee said that wasn’t a problem and that there would be two people waiting for them Sunday morning to do the work. Sure enough, the store sent two people to do the work even though it wasn’t supposed to be open, Doak said.

“Not that I’m a special guy,” he said. “That’s the kind of people they were.”

Doak recalled another time the store’s employees went out of their way to help. During a blizzard, Doak stopped by the store to buy some meat. He forgot something he bought and didn’t even realize he had left it until he got home, Doak said.

Then, a Ballard Meats & Seafood truck showed up in his driveway in the middle of the blizzard with the product in hand.

“They actually did that for me, and I didn’t even ask them,” Doak said. “I’ll never forget that.”

Another customer, Clifford Winter, said he had been bringing deer, moose and a bear to the store since the 1970s, even though he lives in Nobleboro, an hour-long drive from the store.

Winter, 82, said he liked the service and the way they packaged the meat. He recently won an any-deer permit in the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife’s lottery, so he said he’ll have to find another place to butcher the deer if he gets one.

Besides the butchering service, Winter said he liked going to the store for hard-to-find items like rabbit and beef tongue.

Doak also said that the store had a great selection of products — an old fashioned-looking butcher shop with its own smoked cheese, baked beans, sausages and “all kinds of things to try,” he said.

“I can honestly tell you I never had anything that wasn’t really good,” Doak said. “It’s an institution, and those kinds of institutions you can’t replace.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

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Twitter: @pdkoenig