Sponsored by Oregon Business

Farm stores take root in urban areas

| Print |  Email
Articles - December 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

By Amanda Waldroupe

1211_FarmStores_01
Robert Litt, owner of the Urban Farm Store on SE Belmont Street in Portland, sells chickens, worms, cheese kits, brewing supplies, feed and hay, and offers classes and advice.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina

When the chickens came home to roost, so did the urban farm store business.

City policies allowing backyard chicken keeping, a backlash against globalization and people’s interest in living more sustainably are driving the creation of the new niche business, which Kristl Bridge, co-owner of the 6-month-old Portland Homestead Supply Co., says fits “somewhere between a feed store and a hardware store.”

At least six Portland urban farm stores and one in Eugene have opened in the last three years, offering a diverse array of products — everything from canning supplies, cider presses and meat grinders to how-to books and baby chicks — to meet the demands and interests of urban homesteaders. Bridge's store also has a bike-powered grain grinder for those seeking to grind their own flour and simultaneously burn calories.

Many of the stores also offer how-to classes teaching people a skill and how to use related equipment, which helps increase sales. “We’ve had a lot of people come in who are doing their own home preserves and need supplies,” Bridge says.

Also crucial to attracting a wide customer base and making homesteading accessible to newbies is selling products in small quantities. It also helps shorten any seasonal dips in sales. “Everything is scaled to the backyard and home kitchen,” says Robert Litt, owner of Portland’s 2-year old Urban Farm Store.

Stores like Bridge's or Litt’s are too new to identify revenue or profit trends. But “all indications point toward long-term success,” says Bill Bezuk, owner of 18-month-old Eugene Backyard Farmer.

But Bezuk and Litt worry whether this generation’s version of the back-to-the-land movement is here to stay. “Chickens are extremely popular right now,” Bezuk says. “But what is going to be the next big thing?”

The answer to Bezuk’s question may determine whether urban farm stores spread. Litt and Bezuk both say they’d like to open new stores in other parts of Oregon if there are enough do-it-yourselfers out there. But, “I can’t see it exploding at the rate it is now,” Litt says.

Being flexible and nimble with store inventory and customer’s interests may prove key. Portland Homestead Supply recently ordered charcuterie supplies because hunters came in looking for supplies to make venison sausage. “You have to be prepared for everything,” Bridge says.

 

1211_FarmStores_02 1211_FarmStores_03 1211_FarmStores_04
// Photos by Alexandra Shyshkina
(Click to enlarge)
 

More Articles

5 ways successful people kickstart the day

The Latest
Thursday, April 02, 2015
coffeethumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Are mornings the most productive part of the day?  We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.


Read more...

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


Read more...

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


Read more...

Bike Chic: 7 stylish options for cyclists

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cycling to work is all the rage. But not everyone wants to arrive at the office messy, sweaty — and unfashionable.


Read more...

Power Players

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS