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There was perhaps some wishful thinking at work when owners of Sebastopol’s landmark feed store hung a banner last spring announcing the business would reopen late this summer.

But a year after a fire set by an arsonist gutted the Frizelle Enos Feeds building, laid waste to its inventory and put about 20 people out of work, plans, though delayed, are still in place to rebuild and welcome customers back this year.

Tennyson and Linda Tucker, owners of the Petaluma Avenue structure — or, rather, the four propped-up walls that are left — said the look of the place, its eclectic mix of merchandise, and even some of the personnel will be the same or similar to what they were once a building permit is in hand and reconstruction can be completed.

The vintage red-and-white checkerboard pattern around the exterior walls, familiar to patrons and passers-by alike, will remain, as well.

One significant feature will change, however: The business will be known, henceforth, as The Feed Store.

The Tuckers, their daughter, Stacey Renati, and her husband, Tony, who will run the place, don’t own the longtime Frizelle Enos name, so they and their clients will have to relinquish their attachment to it.

Claim to Frizelle Enos resides with two remaining partners who purchased the business from the Tuckers four years ago, expanded into Penngrove, and still operate the sister store on Penngrove’s Main Street.

Tenny Tucker concedes giving up the name “is kinda tough” for his family, which has ties to the store going back two decades.

But his daughter, a former employee who will be leasing the building with her husband, the store’s longtime general manager, said even under a different name, “It’s home to us.”

“We raised our kids there. They both worked there. Our niece and nephew worked there ... It was a family business,” Stacey Renati said. “We’re going to bring it back.”

The feed store, a link to the region’s agricultural roots, had been in continuous operation since its founding as a feed mill in 1939, serving the west county and its commercial hub, Sebastopol. It has borne the Frizelle Enos label since two proprietors with those names assumed the business in 1946.

Operated out of a concrete-block retail building that shared the lot with a corrugated metal warehouse, the roughly 16,000-square-foot emporium offered livestock feeds and products, pet foods, ranchwear and related items, as well as what Stacey Renati called “little pluses and extras you wouldn’t expect,” like distinctive socks, soaps and lotions that sold surprisingly well.

All of it went up in flames and smoke on the evening of July 13 last year after a transient with a history of arrests set fire to stacks of ba led hay stored outside the main building.

The ensuing conflagration destroyed everything, leaving only the exterior cinderblock walls marked by the Purina-brand checkerboard banner and a farm scene mural painted by a former employee.

Surveillance footage resulted in the arrest of a man familiar to police because of a history of more than 70 mostly petty crimes, including two occasions in which he broke the law so he could get himself booked into jail, police said.

Steven Barton Edmonds, 54, pleaded no contest to felony arson in June. He faces sentencing Aug. 12 to four years in state prison, with credit for the past year he’s spent in jail, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office said.

Shelters for Pawnee fire evacuees

Lower Lake High School, 9430 Lake St., Lower Lake, is the official shelter established for people evacuating from the Pawnee fire. It is equipped to handle animals.

The Clearlake Oaks Moose Lodge, 15900 E. Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks, is not authorized by the Office of Emergency Services but is also sheltering fire evacuees, mostly people in campers and RVs who want their animals with them.

There is an authorized Lake County animal services station in an open field at Highway 53 and Anderson Ridge Road in Lower Lake.

His motive in the feed store fire still is unknown, Sebastopol Police Chief Jeff Weaver said.

Ever since the blaze, the Tuckers have been working toward rebuilding and are awaiting permits that would allow construction to begin. It should take two to three months to get the place up and running, once the work starts, Tenny Tucker said.

The pair had hoped to have the building permits in hand weeks ago, though city Planning Director Kenyon Webster said supplemental documents required after the initial application still are under review.

The store’s former owners, Don Benson, Darrel Freitas and Glenn Bach, partners in DGD Feeds, in the meantime, opted out of their lease in Sebastopol, though Freitas and Benson still own the Penngrove store, Benson said.

That left the door open for Stacey and Tony Renati to mull over the idea of running the store and, ultimately, take the plunge.

“We have always had a passion for the store,” Stacey Renati said. “It was a very special place. And you know, through waiting this all out and trying to figure out what we’re going to do — having lost our jobs — it’s what we know. It’s what we do, and so that’s why we’re doing this.”

“It’s hard to explain,” she added. “It’s a feed store. But we have a very strong connection to that space and to the people.”

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.

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