Hip chicks sell out as urbanites flock to buy

| Print |  Email
Archives - May 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009

Chicks.jpg

STATEWIDE The Urban Farm Store’s main business was supposed to be edible plants and gardening supplies, with baby chickens available for the more ambitious urban farmer. But almost immediately after the store opened in February, the chickens took over.

The Portland store sells between 75 and 100 chicks a week at $4 to $5 apiece. Picture deep basins lined with pine shavings and full of tiny balls of fluff that totter around bumping into each other, and you can see how baby chicks are an easy sell.

Co-owner Robert Litt says sales of chicks and chicken supplies account for between 60% and 70% of the store’s business.

“Right now it’s sort of carrying us as we develop the other aspects like the garden center and the pet supply,” Litt says. “It’s been the driving engine. I did not really expect it to be quite so dominant.”

Whether attracted by the soft peeps of cute baby chicks or the tasty, full-flavored eggs of adult hens, urban customers are flocking to chickens. Keeping backyard hens is popular in Portland and Eugene, and a group called “Chickens in the Yard” is agitating for hen legalization in Salem.

The practice of urban chicken-raising really started catching on over the past two years.

“Demand is so much higher this year,” says Mike Lengele, of Diess Feed and Seed in Eugene. “We saw it increase last year and then more this year. We get 400 chicks a week and they’re sold before they even get here.”

In the past, Diess stopped selling chicks on May 1. But demand is so high this year that Lengele is selling chicks into June, and by special order through September. He estimates sales are up about 30% over last year.

The run on chickens is also hitting the hatcheries that supply stores like Diess and the Urban Farm Store.

“In the last two years, we have been running at capacity and have been selling everything we hatch,” says Bud Wood, president of McMurray Hatchery, a large chick hatchery in Texas that mails 1,500 chicks a week through PDX airport.

At the same time, Wood says, individual orders are getting smaller, indicating that it’s urban customers who are doing the buying.

Part pet, part livestock, chicken-raising is more a hobby than anything else for urban owners. Urban chicken enthusiasts read Backyard Poultry magazine, gather on the online message board at BackYardChickens.com, and attend events with names like Chicken Fest and Tour de Coops.

“It’s a thing that people are very excited and very fascinated about,” says Hannah Litt, co-owner of the Urban Farm Store. “We even have customers who offered to work as volunteers in our store.”

ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

More Articles

Destination Resorts 2.0

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

As the recession recedes and tourism grows, Central Oregon resorts redefine themselves for a new generation.


Read more...

100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

As momentum grows at the state level to introduce far-reaching environmental regulations, such as carbon pricing and the Clean Fuels Program, Oregon employers continue to go the extra mile to create green workplaces for their employees.


Read more...

Biker dreams

The Latest
Friday, May 15, 2015
bike at ater wynn-thumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.


Read more...

Modern design defines new Portland indoor market

The Latest
Thursday, June 25, 2015
thumbSnøhetta JBPM exterior www mir noBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An international architecture firm known for its design of the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in New York unveiled its plan this week for a modern indoor/outdoor food market at the foot of the Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Up in the Air

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ANNIE ELLISON

Portland tech veteran Ben Berry is leaving his post as Portland’s chief technology officer for a full-time role producing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) aimed at first responders and the military. Berry’s AirShip Technologies Group is poised to be on the ground floor of an industry that will supply drones to as many as 100,000 police, fire and emergency agencies nationwide. He reveals the plan for takeoff.


Read more...

Oregon businesses face destruction from future earthquake

The Latest
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
htctthumb1BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An earthquake would completely destroy many Oregon businesses, highlighting the urgent need for the private and public sectors to collaborate on shoring up disaster preparedness, said panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast summit today.


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


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