Our children have taken up residence in their new store! Yippee!!!
You may remember me sharing their progress a couple of months ago in Following Their Dreams. Well, it is official. Their store has a new address.
Now found in College Grove (a little blink-in-the-road town)
(really in a little community called Kirkland
but that place is even too small for a post office!)
All the stars aligned and last minute details and paperwork finally came together right before the Memorial Day Weekend. (The most important part was the paperwork, of course. Is your county so persnickety that there is code after code and regulation after regulation and hoop after hoop to jump through to get something established? Well it is here!)
A perfect example of the persnickety details which have to be met is the landscaping. Before the occupation of the store building could take place, all of the landscaping had to be in place. And that was a tall order. Here is a shot of just part of over 250 plants which were required:
some of the trees and shrubs planted on the back side of the store building
Yes, the caption above is correct. This is out behind the store building. Way back there where no customer will see it. Most of the perimeter plantings are to serve as buffers between Stephen and Bonnie's store and the neighbors. So, I'm sure that not only was that a hugantic expense in purchasing such plants and so many plants, it was quite an undertaking to get them all planted. Mike's nephew, Jackson, was employed to use a gigantor auger thingy on the front of a Bobcat to drill a hole. Then, the trees and shrubs were hoisted up on the front of the lift of the Bobcat and set down into the hole. Finally, the root ball was opened and covered with dirt using shovels and a strong back. Whew! Mike took me over one afternoon and let me sit and watch the entire process. It was quite impressive. I also just sat on the seat of the truck and didn't offer to do any of the back-breaking labor! Now, the challenge is to keep all of this horticultural material alive during the hot, dry summer weather. Since we began having 90+ degree days early in May, I fear it is going to be quite the challenge. (The installation of a drip system to water will, hopefully, make that task a bit more manageable.)
Well, at about one o'clock on the Saturday before Memorial Day, moving time arrived. (Some steps had begun even a few hours earlier than that - like preparing the hay storage trailers to be pulled and relocated at the new site. Stephen had arranged for a family friend to hook to the trailers and move them. It was Stephen's grandfather, Pop's, duty to follow the trailers for safety's sake. Below shows one of the trailers being hooked up for transport.)
Mr. Lamb hooked to the trailer and Pop ready to follow
In the photo above you can also see my Daddy's truck in the background pulling in to be loaded with the first load of pallets to go out.All of a sudden this little joint became a beehive of activity! Mr. Lamb pulled the trailers down to the new store site and Mike was waiting there for him in order to help direct and align where these storage utilities would sit. Here is a shot of them situated in their new spot:
The trailers are lined up just below the loading/unloading dock
at the back of the warehouse.
All of the pallets and shelves inside the warehouse had to be shrink wrapped and loaded onto flat-bed trailers for transport. Loose items were
thrown tossed carefully placed into boxes that were set atop wooden pallets. Then, when the box and pallet was full, it was shrink-wrapped and lifted by Stephen using a lift-truck and forks onto a flat-bed trailer and most were tied down onto the trailer before it was rolled down the highway about three miles and unloaded at the new store by Mike.
The warehouse with boxes being assembled for the move.
Here is a shot of our nephew, Jackson, taping a box together in preparation for a fill-up and load.
Bonnie and Stephen had lots of wonderful help! Of course, family chipped in and helped with the packing, loading, hauling, unloading, and unpacking tasks. (They had me so busy that I didn't even get a photo of everybody - there were cousins, Bonnie's sister, Becca and brother-in-law, Matt and nephew, Eli, and several others who aren't pictured!) Even some customers showed up and helped out. Here is a shot of customer, Diane, assembling one of the many boxes:
Customer, Diane, cheerfully lending a packing hand
Diane's son also helped to fill a few boxes inside the tiny showroom, too.
Packing really became a blur of activity with so many hands quickly grabbing products and filling boxes. Here is a blurry shot of that:
This shot also shows just how small the old showroom was. It was packed to the gills with most anything you can think of as a livestock or pet need. As soon as a pallet was filled, part of the crew would wrap it to get it ready to load on a trailer.
One of the first full pallets
One-by-one the shelves were emptied, the boxes were filled, items added to the edges of the pallets, and they were wrapped and loaded.
Bonnie and her dad, Terry, loading a box to the brim!
One pallet ready to load and another ready to wrap.
One of the haulers being loaded
Stephen and crew balancing a load
Even vendors sent help to haul feed and supplies from one location to the other.
This crew came from Tucker Milling.
After a bit, the tiny showroom at the old location got a bit congested. So, Bonnie's mother, Ginger, and her sister, Beth, took a load of loose items down to the new store and began the unloading and unpacking. Here is Ginger gathering loose items:
Ginger with stools and a diagram showing where products should be placed.
I wasn't far behind Ginger and hauled a truck-load of buckets and feed pans. So, we quickly unloaded them and Beth and Ginger went to work on the bucket wall display. There is quite a variety of buckets to choose from and surely there is one to fit most any need! Most had been stored atop a cart that was pulled out in front of the store onto the gravel parking lot each day. So, before placing them on the shelves, Beth and Ginger took a cleaning solution and wiped out each one.
Ginger's white shirt
I hate I didn't get a closer shot of Ginger near the end of the day. Notice that she is wearing a white T-shirt? Well, at one point the entire front of that shirt was wet from wiping and washing buckets. Then, it dried a dingy grey. (I can't imagine that she ever got it clean!). I was wearing a sweat-shirt grey shirt and the front of her shirt was the same color mottled-grey as mine. Whew!
Colorful Bucket and Tub Display
Doesn't their bucket display look cheerful and bright, though? You might remember that this was the first set of shelving to go up as shown in this post and it was the first wall of shelving filled with products.
As soon as the first trailer was loaded, it was pulled onto the road headed south, moving on up to the new site. At the new site, Mike was riding Trigger, his lift truck, and unloading pallets of feed, setting them into the warehouse.
Mike and Trigger
Load after load rolled in and was unloaded just below the dock with pallets transported around the back and into the warehouse.
The pro at work steadily unloading and placing load-after-load!
One of the first stacks enters the new storage warehouse.
While the industrial loading and unloading was taking place, another customer, Mr. Geller, and Bonnie's sister, Betsy, were moving and setting up the live plant displays.
This was a job which required hands-on work and careful placement to keep the tender plants from getting broken and damaged.
Most of the moving process took place Saturday afternoon. The workers were treated to a delicious Bar-B-Q meal provided by a local caterer. (I'm sorry that I have forgotten their name and will try to add it with a later update.) Sunday found family and employees unpacking and stocking shelves and hauling a few more loads. On Monday most of the day was spent unpacking and stocking shelves in the show room and organizing stacks in the warehouse.
I think Bonnie has continually shifted a few things here and there to have it organized better to her liking there inside the showroom. Plus, as new shipments of products are ordered and delivered, she and her crew have done a bit more shifting and moving. Stephen and the crew got most of the feeds and big items stored in the warehouse organized right away. He added some racks to allow for better stacking and storage as well.
I visited this week to see how things are running and took a few pictures of the new facility with business in action.
Remember these rows of shelving that Bonnie thought she wouldn't have enough product to fill?
Well, here is what they looked like earlier this week:
Store view as one enters the door
View from the back corner
The shelves are full from front to back, too!
It is hard to believe that all of this stuff was crammed into that tiny little show room at the former location. Plus, who knew there were so many kinds of horse shampoo, for example?
There is plenty of space for an island display near the check-out counter.
Bonnie's mom made some cute little red gingham curtain valences to perk up the windows and create a homey atmosphere. The counter is paneled with rough, weathered, barn lumber and the top is crafted from wide boards that have been smoothed and finished by a local cabinet-maker. Even if the store wasn't large and spacious and clean and bright and cheerful, the counter, itself is a work of art!
Stephen and a customer
Even though he professes that working behind the counter and greeting customers isn't his favorite part of day-to-day business, Stephen does seem quite at home there. More often, though, one is going to find him out in the warehouse taking care of pulling merchandise and loading customer's vehicles like the photo below shows.
Stephen pulling an order
He is pleased with the spaciousness of the warehouse and says that the set-up has made things far easier and more efficient. Unloading the shipments goes much faster since the trucks can back up to the dock and he can drive right onto the truck with his tow-motor, lift a pallet, and place it where it should be stored in the warehouse. There is no more stacking one product on top of another and stacking one pallet in front of another to conserve space.
This part of the store looks pretty full to me, too!
Everything has a place and there is easy access. So, providing quick customer service is a breeze.
Brad filling a customer's request
He and the guys can quickly circle around and pick up different bags and items, load them onto the two-wheel cart, and place them into the customer's vehicle. New customers who didn't even know they existed a few short miles down the road have stopped in for a quick look and a purchase!
Even though things are new and gleaming, there is still that ambiance
of an old-time farm store.
Bonnie at the check-out counter
Of course, some things worked well at the former location, and those weren't changed at all. There are still bulletin boards for folks to post livestock or equipment for sale or services available. There are a few stools for customers to perch upon while double-checking their lists or signing a check.
Bonnie at work
Bonnie's hard at work checking inventory and preparing to order more merchandise and is always at the ready to answer questions or help meet the customer's needs.
Bonnie sharing a sassy smile!
We are still giddy with excitement even if our old joints and muscles are still recuperating from the hard work of helping them move. (I'd be willing to bet their young muscles were a bit fatigued after the long weekend, too!) I know that they have continually put in long hours beyond their regular open-and-close times to get things sorted and geared up for business. I'm glad they are busy and have a steady stream of folks stopping in for their pet and livestock needs and I know they are thrilled as well.
Don't the smiles on their faces say it all?
If you have pet and livestock needs, don't hesitate to call and if you are in the neighborhood, stop in and browse a bit. They will share those sunny smiles with you as well.