Sunday, January 05, 2014

party and working on the books

Yesterday was cold and cloudy and we had a party to go to during the afternoon, so we rushed to get chores done and I managed to keep my writing time intact before it was time for us to leave.

Our local feed store, the first place I went to check out after we made the offer on November Hill, is one of the best parts of living with horses in our area. The owner bought the store 20 years ago when he bought farmland here and realized the need for a feed store that served people who live with horses, cows, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, and all the maintenance and repair that comes with keeping these animals happy and healthy.

The day I went in to check out the store, I asked about a certain feed that I was using for Keil Bay, which they didn't carry. But they ordered it for me and had it ready and waiting when we moved in, and that was the first of many such experiences I've had there.

The feed store immediately became part of our extended family. D. and his staff (3 of the friendliest, most helpful people imaginable) were always ready to help with products, recommendations, advice on seeding fields, fencing, anything related to farm maintenance - and just standing there chatting about life in general. They have the kind of store where when asked "how are you?" they want the real answer, and vice versa. They sell good products, they respond to customers' needs, and they're also friends and neighbors.

Several years ago D's daughter started working in the store. She brought a ton of new ideas and created a huge organic/sustainable farming section. She took special ordering to a whole new level - bringing in specialty oats, organic whole flax seed and alfalfa pellets, and specialty pet food. If I need something, I ask D. and I ask M. If they don't have it they figure out how to get it. D. had her first child while working at the store, and then her second. A whole new subject to chat about was born.

I can buy horse feed products there, riding breeches and boots, gloves, clothing, locally raised beef, chicken, and pork, grass seed, hoses, buckets, shavings, stall mats, fence posts, fencing, wheelbarrows, mowers, hay,  and they have a fridge where I pick up my raw milk each week. (they don't sell it - they allow the farmer who does to put it there so I can pick it up) I've joked before that if they put in a coffee shop I could just go there and not have to go anywhere else in town. 

D. retired at the end of December, and 200 of the store's regular customers got invitations to a surprise retirement party. We also got news that J., the employee who takes care of the machine side of the store, bought that from D. J. was hired when he was 14 years old as part-time help and he now owns his own shop - and repairs everything from weed-eaters to top of the line mowers. If we need a part, he gets it for us. We also learned that D's daughter M. has bought out the feed store - so the family tradition continues. 

It was a great party. They fed us and served great beer and wine, and D. made his way around to talk to every single person there. Which was easy - because he knew every single person there and we all had stories to tell and things to say.

My story had to do with the latest feed store "save" - my haybarrow's axles had rusted through and I had asked M. if they had them - she said she could get them but I'd need to measure and make sure what I needed b/c different brands had slightly different sizes. It turned out that what can be ordered are full "kits" that include axles, wheels, and other parts that we didn't really need. The next time I was in, I mentioned this to the "guys" - A. and R. - and they asked which wheelbarrow it was - I showed them the one in the store - and they disappeared.  A few minutes later they reappeared from the attic with the exact part in hand. $10. 

D. was thrilled to hear that story because that's the kind of store he's created. It's a family business, a community business, and a real treasure for those of us who shop there.

We got to catch up with our across-the-lane neighbors, and, as I was leaving, one of the store employees brought a woman over to introduce - she'd seen my name in the sign-in book and wanted to meet me - we'd just exchanged emails about my auditing a Mark Rashid clinic coming up later this month. More on that later! 

It wasn't a day of riding, but it was a great way to celebrate the passing on of a store to the next generation. We're so glad it will stay in the family!


Grey Horse Matters said...

A great story. Wouldn't it be nice if more stores were family and community oriented. You're very lucky to live in a place where this is still tradition.

billie said...

We are - and there are local food restaurants, 4 farmers' markets a week in spring/summer/early fall season, and several very nice small shops that carry good products. I can't remember the last time I went into a mall to shop.

Hope you are getting some relief from extreme weather. We are warmer today and tonight but more rain, and tomorrow night's low is 7. High of 25 on Tuesday! Low of 13 Tuesday night. I am not looking forward to that spell of frigid temps.

Matthew said...

It's so wonderful to buy from local farms and businesses instead of impersonal corporations.

Matthew said...

It's so wonderful to buy from local farms and businesses instead of impersonal corporations.