Author: Amy Garrett, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University

Publish Date: Summer 12

 

“Everything old is new again”

The Old Mill Feed and Garden center is a commanding presence on Dallas Oregon’s Main Street. In the 1900s it had been an active farmer’s co-op that sold feed and included a vault that farmers could use for grain storage. Jon and Christie Hendersen purchased this property and building in 2007 and named it Old Mill Feed & Garden. Upon purchase of this building they began renovation, which included removing and replacing all of the old electrical system. You can see the before and after pictures of the store front on their website (www.oldmillfeed.com). Jon and Christie both feel a responsibility to maintain and preserve this historical building. This sentiment is communicated clearly with their slogan at the top of their homepage, “Everything old is new again.”

Prior to the purchase of Old Mill, the Hendersens had been in the feed business for 11 years. In 1996 Jon opened the Independence Feed Store in Independence, Oregon, and then moved to The Feed Store on Washington Street in Dallas in 2000. Their goal at Old Mill Feed & Garden is to educate, maintain a retail business that can support them and the community, and get their building back into shape. Jon said, “Everything we do here goes along with what we believe.”

The Hendersens are dedicated to helping educate their customers as well as their employees. They began to see their customer base evolve early on from price shoppers to educated consumers. Employees hired to help customers at Old Mill go through OSU Extension Master Gardener training. Jon explained that this gives them the basic framework of knowledge that enables them to answer a diversity of customer’s questions, or at least know where to look to find the answer. He then smiled and quoted Albert Einstein with, “Never remember something you can easily look up.” When people come in with questions the Old Mill staff like to offer multiple options or possible solutions and are able to achieve that by having an ample number of informed employees on board devoted to customer service.

The Hendersen’s focus at The Old Mill is product quality, as well as offering products that aren’t readily available at larger chain stores. Christie said, “We get to choose what we sell and only sell what we value.”

Jon and Christie believe that community networking and partnerships are vital to the success of their business. Old Mill supports local businesses and farms in many ways. They are a drop-off point for McK Ranch’s buying club (www.mckranch.com), and mention among other local businesses on their website in the list of “local friends of Old Mill.” Both businesses benefit from this partnership, with the potential customers of each business possibly becoming customers of the other.

The Old Mill also hosts multiple fundraising events and workshops. Whenever food is served at an Old Mill event they always source from local producers and wineries. Christie organizes the annual ‘Ladies Night Out’ at the Old Mill, which is a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness featuring live music and local food and will be held on October 6th this year. Recently, Old Mill held an all-day horse owner’s workshop for more than 100 people. For this workshop lunch was available for purchase featuring McK Ranch beef and the proceeds going to support local businesses and the Dallas Future Farmers of America (FFA). Each event at Old Mill seems to have a theme that centers around community, supporting local food and businesses, and education.

Old Mill Feed & Garden and OSU Small Farms Program will be partnering for an event on September 23, 2012, called ‘Beyond the Harvest, celebrating the season and planning for the next. Stay tuned for details on this event! For more information about Old Mill and its upcoming events, you can find them on Facebook or at www. oldmillfeed.com.