Meet James Smith of Neighbors Feed & Seed Supply in Smyrna
MAY 8, 2017
Today we’d like to introduce you to James Smith.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My wife Megan and I have been interested in suburban sustainability for some time, growing a garden on the majority of our 1/3 acre and keeping chickens. We like the idea of knowing where our food comes from and doing our part to reduce the strain on commercial food production. Having both grown up in Smyrna, we were familiar with the old feed and seed store that had been around as long as anyone could remember. It was limping along and the owners were ready to retire. In February 2015, when we found out the business was for sale we just knew it was ripe for revitalizing. Our vision was, and still is, to build a store that mirrors community interests, supports sustainability and provides quality goods for good living.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The store needed a lot of maintenance when we took over. The prior owners had really shrunk the products that they carried (and therefore the customer base had shrunk as well). Most new families in the area had no idea the store even existed. Our first challenge was we had to work fast to learn products and suppliers and bring in new things. Another big challenge in our first year was working to fix up both inside and outside. We actually didn’t advertise until a full year after we took over because we wanted the inside of the store and product offerings to be in a place that we felt like new customers would like what they saw, would want to come back and tell their friends what a cool place was in Smyrna. The community was ready and excited about us revitalizing a local store that focused on pets and gardening. Our biggest limit was time – we were full of ideas and had a ton of community support and momentum behind us.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Neighbors Feed & Seed Supply Co. – what should we know?
The feed and seed store in Smyrna has been around for almost a century. People that have lived in Smyrna for a long time have known the store in a traditional feed and seed sense: vegetable plants, seeds, gardening supply, fertilizer, pet feed & care (dog, cat, chicken) and wild bird supply. We still specialize in these things but have updated our offerings to reflect current tastes. All of our plants and seeds are non-GMO and we also carry a large variety of organic seeds. We carry multiple options for chicken feed, and our most popular is soy-free organic. Our line of Victor dog food is small batch and intentionally not sold to big box stores, which allows for greater controls on production and the majority of the meat sources to be from the US and Canada. The Foxfarm fertilizer and soils we carry is a line of products known to gardeners around the country for its superior formulations and growing ability for all plants, and we are proud to carry the full product line almost in its entirety. What sets us apart is these unique product offerings that often can’t be found in big box stores. The owners and staff know, love and use the products we sell. If you live in Smyrna, you don’t have to go deal with a lot of traffic or a huge parking lot to get what you need for your pets and garden … in fact you can pull right up, hop in, and we’ll carry the heavy stuff to your car for you. We are proud to have recognized the need for a local source for gardening and pets and took a leap in buying the store in 2015. We are even more proud of the community and how they have embraced our vision. Within families all around us, people are wanting to reconnect with their roots through gardening and sustainability and we love being the starting point for so many healthy lessons and conversations.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
We couldn’t do what we do without advocates all over the community. Our networks are full of cheerleaders that extend from our own grade school friends to current friends that we’ve met at our daughter’s preschool. Customers that supported us during the transition from the old owners to new customers have shared our praises all over town. We have a wonderful network of small business owners in Smyrna from Love Street, Atkins Park, Rev Coffee and Nutrition King, our families and friends have been incredibly supportive with childcare while we work, or helping out at the store when we need a hand. Of course, gardening is something you learn over a lifetime, and our dear customers and friends that have truly spent a lifetime gardening have become some of our favorite mentors.
It's spring planting time and Neighbors Feed & Seed Supply invites you to stock up on all your garden needs, from plants to seeds to fertilizer.
Neighbors Feed and Seed Supply Co. is owned by James & Megan Smith, located at 1565 Roswell St. in the Williams Park Neighborhood.
The Feed & Seed has been in Smyrna for over 100 years, and in its current location since 1975.
The Smiths have been owners since March of 2015 when the last owners retired.
"We have been interested in suburban sustainability for some time (gardening and keeping chickens) in an effort to know where our food comes from and do our part in easing the strain on commercial food production," Smith said.
"Having grown up spending summers gardening alongside my grandparents in west Georgia, I am particularly fond of vegetable gardening as a way of keeping up their treasured knowledge and skills," Megan Smith said. "When the feed & seed business came up for sale it was ripe for revitalization and we knew the Smyrna community needed a local place to support gardening and sustainability efforts as well as pet's well-being."
The Smyrna store carries products from a traditional "feed and seed" sense but updated to reflect the interest and needs of our community.
"The dog and cat food we carry is natural and grain-free. We carry backyard chicken supplies including organic chicken feed. We offer a full line of bulk and specialty wild bird seeds as well as feeders and accessories. Spring is our hallmark time of year, where our huge selection of plants and seeds are all non-GMO. We also offer a selection of organic seeds. Our soils, amendments and fertilizers range from a basic 10-10-10 fertilizer to specialty organics," J.D. Smith said.
Several of Neighbors' most popular product lines can't be found at big box stores. Both the Victor Premium Dog Food and Fox Farm gardening lines are not offered at large stores because these companies believe in small batches, quality control and U.S. sourced raw materials.
"Customers choose our business because we are small and local in the sense that we get to know you, your pets and your garden. We are in a local neighborhood with a small building and lot, which means you can hop right in and out without dealing with Cobb Pkwy and huge shopping center parking," Megan Smith said.
"We'll load the heavy stuff in your car and even deliver large orders or heavy items when needed. When it comes to vegetable plants, we can help you decide what's best for your space. Our plants are cared for by people that love plants. The seeds we offer are varieties long-loved by southern gardeners for our climate." J.D. Smith said.