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

Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Read more...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Tuesday, August 04, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


Read more...

Money Troubles

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY DAN COOK

The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.


Read more...

Aim High

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

We get the education we deserve.


Read more...

Getting What You Pay For

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.


Read more...

Photo log: Murray's Pharmacy

The Latest
Friday, July 17, 2015
OBM-Heppner-Kaplan thumbBY JASON KAPLAN

Photographer Jason Kaplan takes a look at Murray's Pharmacy in Heppner.  The family owned business is run by John and Ann Murray, who were featured in our July/August cover story: 10 Innovators in Rural Health Care.


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