It was 1973 when we started buying this "magic" feed for our dairy goats from a mill in Lincoln, California. When other goat people in the valley heard we were doing this, they asked us to pick up some for them. After a few trips, I had the bright idea: why not open a feed store. This was based on the best foundation possible: no experience what-so-ever, and a potential customer base in our little mountain valley of about 300 people.
Naively we forged ahead, cleaned out the barn and brought in an assortment of
feed. We built a loading dock, made a price board and hung up a pad, sending out
bills based on these tags. We named it "Antelope Valley Feed." It was
here that the philosophy "the customer determines what we will carry"
was developed, carrying over to this day.
After moving to Gardnerville in 1985 I was approached by a man who had heard I
wanted to open a feed store. He had "just" the building for us.
Shortly thereafter, Claire, Janet Wallis and I went to look at the building, the
girls hated it but I loved it, it was a way to get started on my dream!
We rented the building, put out a sign, and Eastern Sierra Feed was born in
Our first store had lots of "advantages": heat was an inefficient wood
stove; access and location was poor and the parking lot had more chuckholes than
asphalt. It was often said we should pay our customers to shop there.
We manned the store with family members and Frenchie Madrid, who still works for
us. On slow days Frenchie would buy several little items, so we wouldn't know
how truly dead the day had been. This was our first experience with employee
loyalty that has been the case with many through the years.
Seven years later, after unsuccessfully looking for a larger building, we
decided to build. It took three years for financing and construction, finally
moving in on January 24, 1998.
We are deeply indebted to our hard working family members and employees who over
the years have contributed to our growth and our ability to endure as a small
But most of all we want to thank our loyal customers for making the small
beginnings become more than a feed store. Without their sustained patronage none
of this would have happened!
Gary & Claire Vowles