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|Articles - December 2011|
|Tuesday, November 15, 2011|
By Amanda Waldroupe
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.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS
Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.
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