Do you go to your local feed store?
Are there several feed stores around but you frequent one more than the others?
Kinda like Starbucks… There may be 2 or 3 in your area, but you like one more than the rest.
Well… they just feel different, don’t they?!
THE CHAIN STORE
We have a Tractor Supply here which is like a candy store for me. I cannot go there without wanting a cart full of stuff… so I try to avoid it unless I have to go there, which I do, about once a week.
However, Tractor Supply doesn’t have much charm and even though I go there all the time, no one remembers me… but still, my head spins and I swoon a little when I cruise through the automatic doors and smell the familiar scent of feed, shavings and rubber – or something mechanically rubbery smelling.
THE OLD SCHOOL/DOWN HOME FEED STORE
This is the feed store that I always wish I could support more often. It is family run, family occupied and struggling because it sits a few doors down from the Big’Un. I always hate it when huge store moves in right next to a local, family run store… It reminds me of when Fox Books moved in on The Little Shop Around the Corner.
Anyway, the Old School/Down Home feed store is like a 7-Eleven for old school farmers. They have the necessities on hand – plus chicks, dog/cat food and basic medicines.
For me, I generally need items that are not runofthemill so I tend to not find what I need here. Still, if I am headed to the Big’Un, I’ll always stop at the OSDH feedstore to pick up whatever I can.
I want them to stay in business, just on principle.
THE SCHEISTER HAY GUY
For the life of me, I cannot understand how the Scheister Hay Guy stays in business. His prices are too high, his hay is not that good, he has old stock in his supply room… yet he talks all about his great, locally grown hay and he is still in business.
To be honest, I think he may do some other business other than hay than the hay business, if you know what I mean… don’t quote me on that but I just don’t understand who would go there.
THE RETAILY FEED STORE
I love to go to this store, but not for the feed… I go for the Tchotchkes. You know the kind of place… this is where you go to get a gift for your horsey friend.
They have horsey dishes, toilet roll holders, purses, wind chimes, iron sculptures, bridle hangers, Western Art trivets, horsey fleece blankets, some saddles, kiddie first-horse kits, grooming supplies… oh yeah, and feed.
This is the place that started as a feed store but then someone got the bug to make it into Retail and off she went! Slowly but surely, out went the udder balm and in came the scented soaps.
I think they should take it one step further and install a coffee bar. I swear, it would be a hit! All the ladies would meet there, look at all the Tchotchkes and talk about their horses! Cha-ching!
We have one feed store that I’ll call, “The Big’Un”.
It is the biggest, has the most stuff, charges the most for all that stuff… and is my least favorite. I try not to go there.
Why? It just feels wrong on me. I don’t fit there.
This is the place that also employs all the local highschool and just after highschool rodeo hotties who flirt with each other while you are trying to get your order. You know… Ms. Barrel Racer Cashier coos at the Bronc Rider doubling as the carry-out guy and compare belt buckles – as you stand there, tapping your fingers.
Anyway, I foolishly asked for CoolStance today and they gave me that, “You must be an English rider…” look.
Whatever. I do appreciate that they always have hay, even when all the others are out. So, that’s something for sure. Being the biggest has its advantages.
We have a Mom/Pop&Son feed store about 10 minutes away. It is run out of the barn of the people’s home right off the main artery into town.
It used to be only hay. Good hay. Fair prices.
But recently, they’ve branched out into feed as well. They have a good, local grower’s feed, which is nice. Usually, if you ask for an item, they will try to get it for you in one form or another.
They always remember your name and what you like to purchase. They always thank you and offer a “see you soon” or an “I’ll see if I can get that in for you…”.
Previously, I wouldn’t have said they were terribly charitable… I would have said that they run an honest business and try to provide what the people want.
But, today, I need to tell you how touched I was by their charity.
You see, a bit of back story, Hubby was a Naval Officer and the owner of this feed store has two sons in the military. I think the owner appreciates that I’m married to a military person.
So, when Hubby lost his job in October, the owner of the store was saddened. He has asked me every time I stop by, “How are things? Did he find a job?” I’ve had to say, NO…
He’s watched me order less and less hay at a time. He knows I had to give up my high paying, high pressure job due to my Lymes… He knows that MT went into surgery. When he heard that she had to go back into the hospital he was genuinely sad for me.
I know that his son had a horrible car accident and is suffering. I know he would never read this blog… I’m not even sure if he has internet.
So today, when I went in to purchase hay, I pulled out my debit card and made some remark about how fast it goes out… and he put up his hand and told me that I could take the hay and not pay him until I felt I had the money.
He said, “I’m not worried, I know you are good for it.”
I cried a little and told him that we were OK. Hubby had just picked up a temporary job on a Military base in Paso Robles. I told him that we were going to be OK – this gesture was wonderful and generous but not necessary.
He told me that his offer stands.
Forever and ever, I will always go there first.
I would choose the Mom ‘n Pop store every single time. We have a big box chain (or two, not Tractor Supply which I would absolutely LOVE to have in our area but sadly we don’t and TS says no time soon….). The big box chains hire tweeny girls, just grad from HS but not into college or “life” much yet and I must say the big problem of these big box chain faux “farm store” employees is attitude, attitude, attitude. While none of us who have attained a reasonable level of adulthood expect Nordstrom style customer service from a feed ‘n farm store employee, It would be SO NICE to NOT be snidely insulted, treated to big sighs, eye rolls, and interrupted sales transactions when said employees’ smart phones twirp or tweet and they just gotta gotta GOTTA get that text message going or respond to that tweet. More than once in my many decades of horses I’ve thrown myself on the mercy for after-hours assistance from the Mom ‘n Pop stores – once even to get formula and a bottle for a soon-to-be-orphaned filly whose mama just wasn’t going to make it. Special orders, sure – with a smile. The Mom ‘n Pop store folks remember your dogs’ names and offer treats if your dog accompanies you – and they don’t mind if the dog is along when you come in. Mom ‘n Pop stores don’t argue with you when you pay cash and ask for the receipt (yes, had that happen at a Wilco store in northwest Oregon, where the employee had already automatically tossed the receipt in the trash and had to go retrieve it (eye rolls, sighs….). Mom ‘n Pop stores for me every time. And I wish we had more grocers like that for PEOPLE food!
Add to the no-no list: HAY SPECULATORS. We have a LOT of those here. Buy up a bunch and resell at 300-400 percent markup (feed stores here locally, starting January, now limit retail sales to 10 bales due to the speculators grabbing everything, sitting on it, and then price-gouge). Gradually we figure out who the speculators are. I feel bad for the newbies who haven’t figured that out yet!
Some people just have hearts of gold. What a great story. ??