Feed business riding high at new Oak Harbor location

Steve Metcalfe shows the space for holding hay at his store’s new location. Whidbey Farmers Feed and Tack Supply sells a variety of types of hay

After two years of work and planning, Steve Metcalfe and Suzette Keller’s feed and tack has a storefront in Oak Harbor.

Whidbey Farmers Feed and Tack Supply, which used to run out of Metcalfe’s home, opened a location on Oak Harbor Road in August.

They agree that the move was a good one.

“At the farm, you could only do so much, and it was kind of out of the way,” Metcalfe said. “This way, we have more room for product and are just closer to town.”

The store stocks various feed for different animals, as well has different kinds of hay, tack and other products used to care for animals.

“Horses, chickens, goats, cows, llamas, alpacas, pigs, I think everything,” Metcalfe said of the types of animal feed stocked.

“And then if we don’t have it, we just ship it in.”

The ability to provide customers with the products they want, and not just the ones they stock in their store, is one of the reasons Metcalfe said he got into selling feed.

Before he opened, he said, there was only one feed store, and he couldn’t always find the type of products he needed there. That store, he said, didn’t offer a policy of finding their customer what they needed, if possible.

“I think it’s more that type of thing that kind of helps drive what we do here,” he said, “because we want to help them get whatever it is they use and not just sell them what we have.”

For Keller, that is one of the challenges of owning the business.

“There’s so many different ways to do things with horses,” Keller said. “Everybody has their own theories on what’s good, what’s bad, so trying to keep up with what everybody wants and needs, that’s kind of hard.”

But it’s worth it.

Both Keller and Metcalfe have had horses for years. They said offering this kind of service to others is important to them.

“It’s such a small horse community here on the island,” Keller said. “Everybody knows everybody. We’re all friends. So it’s kind of a social thing and providing a service to them, our friends.”

It wasn’t easy starting out in business.

When he first opened, Metcalf said that finding companies that would allow him to sell their products was challenging. He ended up going to Oregon for product.

“If you don’t have a storefront, they won’t sell you anything,” Metcalfe said.

“It wasn’t just handed to me. It was work. It took two years to get it.”

Finally having a storefront, he said, “opens the door up for more things for you to get.”

The business now receives weekly shipments.

Metcalfe said he still goes to get the hay himself, traveling periodically to Eastern Washington.

“Our hay is really quality hay,” said Tatiana Metcalfe, Steve’s wife. “A lot of people have been telling us what a great job we do getting our hay here and how amazing it is and the horses love it.”

Tatiana operates the store.

Since opening, she said, more and more people are stopping by because of the increased visibility and closer proximity to town.

“I guess when it was on our property, it was kind of hidden, but now it’s more open to whoever’s driving by,” she said.

Customer service is always the highest priority for the owners.

One service Metcalfe has offered since opening two years ago is delivery for those who can’t pick up their hay.

“There’s a lot of elderly people that have animals too, but they can’t come pick it up. So I just make sure that they can get it.

“I don’t make any more than them just coming to pick it up here,” Metcalfe said. “It’s more just a service so they can get their stuff.”

The store is located at 3060 Oak Harbor Road.

“It’s new, it’s growing, it’s exciting,” Keller said.

“We love it. It’s fun.”