FEED STORE STAYS TRUE TO ROOTS:FRIZELLE-ENOS, NOW WITH NEW OWNERS, KEEPS TO WHAT IT HAS ALWAYS DONE BEST
Frizelle-Enos Feeds, Seeds N' Country Needs store has remained steadfast to its Sebastopol customers while adapting to evolving needs.
For 80 years, generations of children have come to ooh and aww at newly hatched baby chicks.
If you want to swap a nanny goat or have extra baby bunnies, the chalk bulletin board outside is the way to go.
The store sold a year ago, but no one even noticed, and that's the way Glenn Bach, a modest, even shy, man wants it.
Bach, who worked for more than 20 years for Petaluma Poultry, and two partners, Don Benson, owner of Rivertown Feeds, and Darrel Freitas, owner of Petaluma Poultry, acquired the downtown store on Sebastopol Road and also set up another store within the last year in Penngrove.
Here's how he responds to questions about the current state of the business.
You had no announcements or fanfare when you took over. Why was that?
We just wanted everyone to feel it was the same. In five years, I'd be pleased if a customer said to me, "I didn't realize the store had changed hands."
What makes this store so unusual?
We take care of our customers' needs. If they have questions, we have answers or we get answers for them. We carry out their purchases for them. We hire our staff that way. We want people that have grown up with animals, that know them, that care and can really help our customers.
How many employees do you have?
We have 25 people in the two stores. They are our family. In fact, my son and Don Benson's (son) work in the Penngrove store.
You are a farm boy from Missouri. How did you end up here?
I was raised on a farm and worked in a feed store six days a week. In 1989, I got a call from Petaluma Poultry offering me a job and a trip to California to check it out. It was 12 degrees below zero and I had ice in my beard. My only experience of California had been Los Angeles, but I thought, why not go to California. I was surprised when I got north of San Francisco. I said to myself, "I could live here."
Have you seen changes in the farming community since you've been here?
Oh, sure. We still have our old ranching families, but we also have hobby farmers, and farmers trying to go organic and go back to smaller, more self-sufficient farms. It reminds me of when I was back in Pennsylvania recently and saw the Amish. They are 40-acre families. These smaller farms may have some cattle, some hogs, chickens, goats. We carry organics for them and help with their livestock and the pets. And for town people as well as country, we have wood stoves, Birkenstocks and our gift shop. We try to find unusual things for it.
You offer an education of sorts?
Well, from time to time Purina runs a workshop for new animal owners -- hogs, goats, cattle. We have low-cost vet service come in every other Sunday for cats and dogs. We really offer special things for pets. Like recently, a lady had a two-month-old boxer and didn't know the right feed for him. We offered her lamb, beef, and rice and should it develop an allergy we can tailor her dog food to her pet. We have schools and families bringing the kids in to see the chicks still, and we had a 4H chapter here that is successful. We have a total service orientation. And our staff is knowledgeable. We stick to what we do best. We don't do hydroponics because our neighbors Harmony Farms does that. We did get into dust control because my son and I saw a need and decided to fill it. We came up with a green way to control it.
Are you going green in other ways?
We installed solar panels on our roof and we recycle everything we possibly can.
You must be very busy with two stores to run.
Yes, but I look forward to things settling down so I get even more involved in community activities. In December, we will sponsor a Chamber of Commerce mixer, and I've gone to Grange functions. I had been president of the California Grain and Feed Association, but gave that up although I am still an active member.
What's a typical day for you?
I have my own livestock to care for -- chickens, cows, horses, a dog, cat and bunny. So I get up about 5 a.m. to take care of them, then have a partner meeting and get to one or the other store for the 7 a.m. opening. I meet with our managers and staff during the day, handle whatever comes up, support the staff in any way needed. I am in the stores all day, then go home at 6 p.m. closing to take care of the animals again. Then I do research and read up on what's new. Right now, I am interested in learning about water catchment and cisterns. We did it in Missouri, but it's just coming to California.