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.