WATERLOO — If you’re going to stable a horse, you have to feed a horse. The same goes with pigs, ducks, chickens and anything else.
It seemed a pretty simple business plan to Erik Lee.
So Lee, with his wife, Shelli, purchased the venerated Jerald Sulky Co. last year and opened The Scoop Feed & Supply, a livestock/pet feed store in what was the offices at Jerald Sulky’s at Wagner Road and West Airline Highway. The store opened April 14.
While the 120-year-old Jerald Sulky Co. — which manufactures horse carts and is known for harness-racing sulkies — has seen a resurgence in business under their ownership, they also hope to attract local business for The Scoop.
The Lees, who have a horse farm east of the Twin Cities, saw a need for Jerald Sulky’s products when it fell on hard times and ceased production.
They also saw a need for The Scoop when they couldn’t find feed for some of their horses locally.
“We had a tough time finding certain feeds we were looking for,” Erik Lee said. “After some conversations with some folks we found out we weren’t the only ones. We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if there was a great feed store in town? Let’s tackle it.’ So here we are.”
In addition to the front-office store, they have a supply of feed in a warehouse. “We’re pretty darn well stocked,” he said. “And the goal is to outgrow this space in the next year, 18 months, and land The Scoop a pad of its own.”
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While others, mainly “big box” retailers, offer such products, “it’s not the experience that horse people, animal people anticipate,” Erik said. “Great places to buy things, but it’s not a place where you build a relationship, necessarily, on your feed, on your animal.”
The Lees worked on setting up the store for the past two or three months.
After bringing horses to Iowa, they discovered a lack of supply for some products, especially specialty products.
“We discovered it actually really was an opportunity in the marketplace in the Cedar Valley,” Lee said.
Customers who want to purchase product by the pallet load may pull up to the warehouse, Lee said.
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The store targets county fair exhibitors, everything from horses, poultry, rabbits, exotics, pigs, lambs and sheep.
“For everybody who has stopped in we have had very positive feedback. They have a lot of fun,” Lee said. “We encourage them to bring their pets along with them.”
A regional feed company representative also will do nutrition consultation with customers. The Lees also are inviting food trucks to set up a lunch service on the site in the industrial area along Wagner Road and Airline Highway.
While the feed store is just opening, the sulky business is busy.
“This is championship time of year” for horse shows, said Hannah Kolthoff, retail store leader. “We’ve been working overtime for three or four weeks straight, trying to get deliveries out. ‘Made in the USA’ is hard. But we’re having a whole lot of fun, to be sure.”