Small, urban, chicken-supply business - can it work?

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by reedyfork, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. reedyfork

    reedyfork Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2009
    North Carolina
    Not sure where to post this, so I thought I'd start here.

    I am brand-new to raising chickens, and live in an urban city that justed passed its "backyard chicken" ordinance last year. Interest seems to be growing - we are the third family just in our neighborhood to have a backyard flock. Problem is that to get feed, shavings, books, brooder supplies, etc., we have to travel to one of the few outlying "feed and seed" stores in the county.

    I am considering starting a small, local retail business in our community catering to the growing interest in urban chickens - almost like a pet store for chickens. Maybe located near our urban farmer's market, organic/whole foods grocery, or someplace like that. I would specialize in offering smaller size supplies (for flocks of 3-4 hens), as well as organic and non-medicated foods. Does anyone out there know of a similar establishment in their urban community? Does anyone on this board own or have experience with a similar type of store? Here's what I'm thinking:

    Feed, grit, oyster shell, scratch, BOSS, seed and grain bins (for custom mixes)
    Shavings, hay, straw (possibly in smaller, more convenient sizes)
    Diatomaceous earth, Stall-Dry, etc.
    Coop and brooder supplies (feeders, heat lamps, hardware cloth, etc.)
    Pre-made coops and and coop-building services
    New and used incubators
    Chicks (will certainly bring the customers and kids in!)
    Toys, treats, etc. (if there are such things for chickens:))
    Books, dvds, magazines
    Art (local and/or vintage chicken stuff)
    Compost supplies
    Vermiculture supplies
    Mealworm supplies
    Seminar and "lecture series" opportunities
    Local egg-selling opportunities
    Any other ideas???

    Obviously this might not be the most profitable business idea in the world, but the concept and enjoyment factor seems very appealing to me on many levels.

    What do you all think?

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  2. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    Sounds good to me.
    I am thinking alot the same lines since my nearest feed store is 67 miles (one way) away.

    I am also thinking about a mini hatchery.

    I personally think it could work.
  3. suburbanminifarm

    suburbanminifarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2009
    N.San Diego County
    Sounds like a neat idea! I'd add:
    -chicks, perhaps contract with quality local breeders or even hatch your own from really good stock
    -bins of different types of seeds and grains, with scoops, so people can mix their own treat mix or feed.
    -incubators --both new and resell used ones!
  4. GardeNerd

    GardeNerd Chillin' With My Peeps

    The only similar place that comes to mind is Nutzy Mutz, in WI. I saw them in the movie "Mad City Chickens." They started out as a specialty pet food store in Madison, and then they later carried chicken products due to regular inquiries from customers for organic chicken feed.

    Nutzy Mutz & Crazy Catz
    Madison, WI 53711
    608.233.2287 (CATS)

    I would recommend selling feed, supplies, and treats in smaller sized amounts than the traditional feed stores #50 bags and straw bales. One store in Anaheim has convenient "in store" ready made packages including 5 lb. size of scratch, B.O.S.S. and other treats. For folks with just 3 to 4 chickens, and no friends to split supplies, it is ideal. They charge a slightly higher price per lb. than a bulk bag, but they sell many more of these sized bags. They also sell hay, straw, and wood shavings in smaller bags for more "city sized" amounts. Most folks locally don't want a large bale of straw or hay, but will buy a kitchen sized trash bag of it. Carrying organic and/ or soy free feeds would bring in customers too. Not many feed stores carry it.

    Best Wishes!
  5. reedyfork

    reedyfork Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2009
    North Carolina
    Thanks! Those are all excellent ideas. I've edited my original post to include your thoughts.

    I've gone back and forth on having live chicks for sale in the store. Obviously that means a little more care and upkeep on my part (do I want my store to smell like a coop and have constant dust all over everything?), but what better way to bring in the customers (and the kids) than to have a brooder full of day-old chicks! I could even attempt to offer them year-round rather than just in the spring like the feed and seed stores...

    And yes, I think offering supplies in smaller, more manageable sizes (not 50# bags) would be the way to go, as well as concentrating on organic and non-medicated feeds. It's been impossible for me to find anything organic or non-medicated around here, simply because the feed and seed stores are catering to folks with large, production flocks (not backyard "pets").

    Now I'm getting really excited!

  6. ThePamperedPullet

    ThePamperedPullet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Check out our web site
  7. saddina

    saddina Internally Deranged

    May 2, 2009
    Desert, CA
    Add incubation services. Since most cities only allow 5 or so hens, the ability to have 6 eggs hatched outinstead of ordering 25 chicks would bring in added business. Offer custom orders on chicks too, (I.E. someone wants 2 EE, 2 CM, 2 polish) Here BR & RIR, and Cornish X chicks only.

    Carry gamebird supplies as well, and duck feed.

    I can not stress how inportant customer service is. There's a feed store less than a mile from me. They have a rather um... disdain for small flock keepers. I can walk in with a list of what I need in my hand, and they still can't be bothered to well, work. I'm 5ft tall, i'm not lifting a 50lb bag of feed, if you can load 300lbs of horse feed for the guy before me, you can put chick starter into my car. I now drive 25 miles to another feed store, yes it's inconvient, yes I have to order in spanglish; but the couple who run it are happy to help, thier son'll load for me, and if I need something different they'll order it for me.
  8. jerseygirl1

    jerseygirl1 Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 20, 2009
    Orange County, NY
    Maybe, as a draw, offer dog and cat food? I know it's a local urban chicken business, but if I didn't have my dogs and cats, I probably wouldn't have chickens, either.
  9. jenjscott

    jenjscott Mosquito Beach Poultry

    May 24, 2008
    Southeast Arkansas
    This is a fast growing fad, but it is a fad, Don't go so far overboard that when it dies back to a stable level, you got so much into it that you can get it back out.
  10. reedyfork

    reedyfork Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2009
    North Carolina
    This is a fast growing fad, but it is a fad, Don't go so far overboard that when it dies back to a stable level, you got so much into it that you can get it back out.

    You know, I have concerns about that too. Is the interest in backyard chickens, locavore products, organic foods, backyard produce, etc. truly a fad and a direct result of the economic times? Will things go right back to our American ways of material consumption and apathetic lifestyles when the economy improves and folks once again have excess disposable income? I truly hope not!

    I was thinking about being able to broaden my market if this is really a fad and the interest eventually fades. Maybe expanding into wild bird products, butterfly gardening products, and that sort of thing...

    Good discussion!


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