Buy a feed store, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. You’ll meet lots of interesting people, they said. You know what? They were right! Of course, it’s not all fun, and not everyone is interesting, but for the most part they were pretty much on point. The end of this month we will celebrate six years here at Young Family Feed. Sadly, it will also be our last. Yes, the time has come for us to turn the page. On March 1, 2018 we will begin a new chapter of our lives just as we began this one six years ago, full of excitement, hope, anxiety, and determination. Before we talk about the future though, let’s talk a little about the past.
Most of you reading this probably already know a little of our story. After 30 years in the construction industry, we wanted to give something else a go. We decided on a feed store for several reasons. Now my wife will tell you it was my decision to open a feed store, not hers. In reality, I think we finally both agreed, even though she still may not admit it.
Nonetheless, on March 1, 2012 we opened Young Family Feed in the old Hale’s Feed & Seed building in Nicoma Park, OK, about 10 miles or so from where we live. My wife had not even been inside this building yet. She had looked through the glass a few days before we opened and said “I can work with this”. She was still working in special education when we opened so we could, at least, have our insurance and a small income.
We really had no idea what to expect from the store. Although it had once been a popular feed store in the area, it was a far cry from that now. Not to mention the competition that had come in a few miles up the road some years back. We just didn’t know what to expect, and to add to that issue, neither of us had any experience in retail. We knew we would give it everything we had…and we did.
I mentioned Staci hadn’t been in the building before we opened. Well, she wasn’t there that first day either. She decided she wasn’t coming until we “cleaned that filthy bathroom”. We did, and two days later, she came in and cleaned it again. We added some lights and a fresh coat of paint to help brighten it up a bit, removed a couple interior walls to open it up a little and added a few personal touches. Before too long, people started noticing. Talking about it. Stopping in to see what was happening. We were growing.
A couple of years after we opened the store, my wife brought a book to the store one day and said she thought I should read it. In all honesty I hadn’t been very easy to get along with lately. The stress and long days of trying to build a successful business with little room for error was beginning to take its toll I guess. Anyway, she had stopped by the library and picked up a book. She handed it to me and asked me to read it. I asked why? What is it about? She said she didn’t know. I said you got a book you want me to read but you don’t know what its about? “Yes” she responded. That seemed very strange to me. So I asked why did you pick this book for me if you don’t know what its about. She said she wasn’t sure, but as she looked over the books, she was drawn to this one. Something told her to get this one for me. Now, let me say right here…I’ve been with this woman for over 30 years. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen her do something and have no idea why. So, I didn’t really pursue the issue. I took the book and went to my desk. After two or three chapters, I walked back out and asked her if she was certain she did not know anything about this book. She assured me she had never read it. Now, I was more than a little intrigued. Sort of in that way when you know there is a higher power at work some way. My wife knew what I needed to hear, or read, even if she didn’t know she knew it. To this day, I still believe God led her to this book because He knew what I needed to hear. I won’t go into details of the book, but I would highly recommend you read a book by Jon Gordon called The Carpenter if you get a chance. This particular book gave me some much needed insight as to what is most important, not only in business of any kind, but in my personal life too. I found so many areas of my life that needed to be reminded of the message this book has. We developed a business strategy from this message and, although it did not relieve all my stress and sleepless nights, it most certainly put me more at ease than I had been in a long time. In all honesty, it most likely saved our business, and strengthened our family. I have read it a couple of times since just to try to stay on track. I’m sure I will read it again in the future as we go from here.
Over the next few years, we continued to slowly grow, but we knew there was a ceiling. There was only so much room in this building. People suggested adding on or adding other buildings but we simply did not own the building, it was leased. We also knew that if we grew much more we would have to hire extra help. While that sounds great on the surface, if you’ve ever owned a business before, you are aware that employees are a large added expense. This is one of the things I learned from the many employees we had in the construction business. That cost,
along with the higher lease and utility costs for more building space would likely mean higher prices to pay for those added costs. That wasn’t what we wanted. So we aimed for our ceiling. I think we hit it. Now, in fairness, I’ll be the first to admit there were some issues we had to overcome if we wanted to stay in business at, or near, that ceiling. First came the new competition in the form of Tractor Supply in the neighboring town and right on its heels came an increased city wide tax rate in our town. Great timing guys! It seemed, at times, kind of like taking a knife to a gun fight. Still, we moved forward, and tried to find other items and services we could offer, and worked harder to keep our customers happy.
As is the case with everything, nothing lasts forever. When the time came, we wanted to leave the business better than we found it. We wanted to leave on our terms and not be forced out. As in 2012 when I left the construction business, I wanted to be moving toward something and not just walking away from something. These are the biggest reasons why we have chosen now to turn the page. We came, we saw, we worked our asses off, and we succeeded. Now it’s time to turn our attention elsewhere. To other areas of our lives that are calling for our attention, time and energy. The confidence we gained from this endeavor will guide us into the next chapters.
Now, for that part about those interesting people we would meet. I don’t really even know where to start. The hardest part of moving on is what we have to leave behind. The many, many wonderful people we have met, gotten to know, and/or become friends with over the past six years. Without you, there would be no need for this blog.
There would have been no six years. Without you, there would have been no Young Family Feed. We have people that came in that first few weeks or months that still come in today. Thank You! We have people that still come in today for the first time. Thank You! Everyone who walks through our door brings a smile to our faces. Some when they come in, and some when they leave, but one way or the other they make us smile. Seriously though, without these customers we would have never gotten to this point. I know there were times we may not have had what you wanted on hand or the price may not have been to your liking. Those are frustrating things for us, just as they are to you. I’d have loved nothing more than to have been able to have had everything everyone wanted at a price they loved. But, that’s only going to happen in a perfect world, and Lord knows we don’t live in that world. We had customers who were the best. Not everyone, some were jackasses who hated the whole world and certainly didn’t mind if we knew it. I particularly enjoyed the few who would come in and let me know they could buy the same product somewhere else, or online, for less.
My smile said “I’m sorry, I wish there was something I could do about that”. My mind was saying “Then why are you still standing in my store”? But my heart said, “Don’t get upset with them, you don’t know what they’ve been through today.” Everyone has a story. Overall, the folks we dealt with on a regular basis were awesome. I think that’s the case in most every aspect of life. It’s just those who are not so awesome, seem to quickly overshadow all those others. I read an article once that said something to the effect of this: Don’t let a bad 5 minutes ruin the other 1,435 minutes of your day. Much easier said than done for me, but I like to think I try to adhere to that.
Now, where from here? Well, honestly, I don’t know that we can tell you exactly. We just know it’s time to move forward. I believe that our creator has a way of letting us know when it’s time for change. The confirmations we have seen in regards to this are real. There is a belief by those of us who are Christians that we must trust God’s plan. We must have complete faith. Sure, I’d like to know the plan, but more than that I have faith that God will provide the opportunities in the places He wants us to be, and in the paths He wants us to follow. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you”. I believe that, and I know He will show us those plans. We have some things in the works and some of those may well be things that keep us in touch with some of the great people we’ve met through this store. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t feel like we are walking away from something but rather walking toward something else. As for the feed store itself, we are currently having talks with some various folks who have an interest in buying it and keeping it open. We will see where that goes. Hopefully for the loyal customers we have and the fine folks of this area, we can work out a deal so this place can continue.
Before I end this blog, I would like to personally thank everyone who had a part in making this past six years a wonderful time in our lives. The memories my family and I will carry with us are ones we are so grateful for. To have the opportunity to do this, at this point in our lives was a true blessing. Our children got to learn valuable lessons here that would not have been available otherwise. There are far too many people to mention individually, but thank you to all of our family members and friends who gave their time and sweat to help us throughout the years. Thank you to the sales reps from our major suppliers who took the time to help a novice retailer understand the ins and outs of this business. Thank you to our neighbors here in Nicoma Park who have gone out of their way to be accommodating and helpful. You’re all so much appreciated! I’d also like to take a moment to encourage each of you reading this to remember to live life to its fullest. There are things that matter and things that don’t. Material things fade, don’t spend your life chasing them. You will look up one day and wonder where all the time went…and what do you really have to show for it? Memories last. Go make them. Dreams drive us. Have one, and follow it with passion. Find a purpose and fulfill it with all your heart. Be you, and be the best you possible. Do these things and you won’t have any regrets. At least that is my opinion.
I’d like to close by saying that my wife, Staci, my children, Holly, Jackson, and Hayden, and I, would like to let you know how much your support, your loyalty, your friendship, and your patronage over the past six years has meant to all of us. The fact that you entrusted us to the well being of your animals is special to us. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!It has been quite a ride, but as George Strait would say….this is where the cowboy rides away. We wish you all the very best!