Feed store owners follow dreams

ned feed  group   Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  Donna Sue Kirkpatrick always wanted to work for herself and her dream came true when she and her husband Rick purchased the Nederland Feed and Supply Store.

Abby Pause always wanted to work with animals, but couldn’t imagine she would ever be able to own her own business. Funny how things work out.
On November 1, just short of 20 years of owning the local feed store, Donna and Rich will turn the shop over to Abby and her husband Adam.

Donna and Rich are off to pursue their retirement dream of traveling, and Abby and Adam are beginning their dream of owning a business that is perfect for their lifestyle. Dreams coming true as if they were meant to be.

The Nederland Feed and Supply Store came into being when Al Bateman, a Boulder hay farmer, purchased the building in Nederland as a way to broker hay from his farm down below. He also happened to like Nederland. Al kept a few bales in the mountain store and told people to go to his farm on Arapahoe to get more. He also had dog food and basic pet food.

In 1996, Donna Sue, after working at CU for 10 years decided she wanted to have her own business. Rich had been working on the Moffat Tunnel ventilation project and hefting bales of hay and 50-pound sacks of dog food didn’t sound so bad.

At that time the population of Nederland was about the same as it is now, but there were more livestock customers then, pigs and horses and cows. “There were hardly any chickens in the area back then,” remembers Donna. “Now chickens are about a quarter of our business.”

As the years went by, Donna and Rick got to know their customers, know their animals and what people preferred. They bought food for generations of dogs. They built up a network of suppliers.

Rich remembers driving his 1966 Ford pickup to Boulder looking for horse hay and pulled up to a farm off Valmont and met the farmer who had the same truck as he did, and the two Ford owners did business together for years.

From the very beginning wild bird seed was one of the biggest sellers and soon Rich developed his special recipe, Rich’s Yard Seed, which he mixed in a cement mixer: seeds and beans and grains of all colors and sizes that the birds demanded, having once tasted them.

When Donna decided to add some landscaping color to the property, people admired the flowers and told her she should sell them, so every spring and early summer, annual and perennial plants cluster on the outdoors shelves. The couple created Ned’s Feed Seed, a mountain blend of easy to grow wildflowers.

Rich and Donna and their dog Buck loved their life with the Nederland business. A couple of years ago, Donna broke her ankle and the physical demands of the feed store took their toll. When she had knee replacement surgery, she and Rich began to talk seriously about retiring. They felt it was time. Then Abby came in looking for a part-time job.

ned feed abby

Abby grew up in Wisconsin, beginning her career at a local pet store at the age of 14. She had always been an animal lover and her specialty was reptile rehabilitation. She had one snake for 15 years and up to 20 reptiles at a time, including a three-legged bearded dragon. She liked nursing them back to health. Later she went to work at a grooming kennel and then was employed by PetCo in Green Bay.

In 2007, she came to Nederland to visit some friends and they told her to come during the Frozen Dead Guy Festival. “I thought they were joking,” she said. That weekend she fell in love with the town because, “I couldn’t believe how many dogs there were.” A year and a half later she moved to Ned, found a job with Only Natural Pets in Boulder and met Adam who was playing with the Mountain Standard Time band.

The couple moved to Gilpin County and Abby decided she really wanted to find work in Nederland. For four years she learned about animal nutrition, Chinese herbs for pets and the high end diets for Boulder dogs. She became the store manager and also learned the business part, working with distributors. Adam eventually left the band and also went to work for Only Natural Pets. When the Tin Shed opened, he became the service manager in the bike shop.

When their son Franklin was born, they decided they didn’t want to be working in Boulder and that’s when Abby went to see Donna about a job. Not only was she hired, but the idea of Adam and Abby buying the business came into play. It was as if everything she had accomplished so far in her life had led to this opportunity. “The idea of owning a store was terrifying, so I thought I would just work here and see how it went.” She started her new job in October, 2014. “No way,” she thought. “It was too good to be true. Something like this had always seemed so out of reach.

ned feed mixing bird seed

But everything Adam and I had done so far seemed to be leading to this, and now we would be working across the street from each other and I could bring Franklin to work with me. It will be a real family business.”

Over the years, locals have trusted Donna and Rich to help them take care of their pets and animals. They were both caring and kind to their customers and always interested in what was going on with their furry and feathered friends.

Abby and Adam plan to carry on that tradition, but to make the place a bit more their own, they are changing the name to Nederland Feed and Pets. She and Adam have goats, chickens, rabbits, a pig, toads, lizards and three dogs.

Adam and Abby will be taking over the business on November 1. They will close until Tuesday, Nov. 3, when they will have a celebration with many sale items and goodies for all the pets.

The new hours are 10-6 on Monday through Friday and 10-4 on Saturdays.

Abby says Franklin has already become adept at helping customers and likes to lock up the shop at night.

Donna says, “We have loved owning the store and we have learned a lot, especially about each other. No one could ever argue better than we do now. When you work together like we have, you learn that. It’s a good time for us to be leaving and for Abby and Adam to start out. I feel likeNederland is on the verge of something major. Maybe even a traffic light. And it is a perfect time for them to be starting a business.”

Abby says she intends to serve the needs of the locals and also bring more customers, who will find what they need in town, instead of having to go to Boulder.

As one couple heads into the sunset in their RV, another couple will be settling in for the beginning of their next adventure in life.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.