Norwich Feeds Country Store – A Family Affair
Jarrad Saarloos was working for an electrician in Norwich when he and his father, Wilf, decided to expand the family business empire. They purchased two locations from Sinden Feed and Seed who kept their third location in Princeton. “The opportunity came up last year to purchase this location as well as one in Burford, so we jumped on it,” said Jarrad. The Saarloos family is from Aylmer where Wilf owns a feed mill, and he also owns a mill and manufacturing operation in Thorndale.
The family connection doesn’t end there. “My younger sister is actually a salesperson with Shur-Gain which is our main feed supplier. They have been well-respected for many years in Ontario, and she works closely with us at all our locations. My brother-in-law works at our manufacturing plant in Thorndale. I quite enjoy working with family. It’s a great atmosphere. The staff and co-workers, we all know each other well and treat each other well. I haven’t come across any obstacles yet.”
Jarrad said they were fortunate to purchase a business located in a new building located in the west end of Norwich. “We came into a site with tall ceilings, it was well-lit and well-merchandised but of course our focus was a little different, so we expanded into a few new product lines and shrunk down on a few others.” Despite the change in stock Jarrad knows they are primarily a farm retail store. “We focus on the farm tools and hardware and the growing backyard farmers. A lot of people are going back to grassroots because of the pandemic by planting vegetable gardens and even raising their own chickens.” The sales of live birds have been growing steadily and the store held a dozen ‘Chick Days’ this year. “A lot of people want to have their two or three birds in the backyard so they can have fresh eggs. It has really taken off. We have one stop shopping with the birds, supplies and feed available.
Among the new products brought in by Jarrad are barbeques and smokers, something that had done well at their other stores. “Part of my philosophy is you don’t know if something is going to do well unless you give it a try. We have been able to move most of what we brought in.” He added he is adding a line of work clothes soon including boots.
Like so many other Oxford County businesses Norwich Feeds emphasizes local as much as possible. “We deal with some large national corporations for a lot of our large items but for our clothing, we try as hard as possible to source from Canada. Our feed is either manufactured in Thorndale or St. Marys and our pet food comes from St. Marys and Alberta. Because we aren’t a branded store, we can be more flexible and work with suppliers we want to work with.” The store also has a cooler featuring local cheese products.
Jarrad has been pleased with sales so far, noting that a lot of people don’t always want to make the drive to Woodstock or London to get the big deals on something. “There are some external factors that have added to our success. It’s a new building and more and more people are finding out about us every day. I see new faces often just because of that. I think people are wanting to stay local if they can because of the pandemic.”
Visit online: https://norwichfeeds.com/