If you’re a strategic shopper — the kind who frequently shops more than one store to get the best deal on your weekly necessities — you may want to add your local seed and feed to your list of regular stops!
Why your seed and feed may have an edge over other retailers
In case you’re not familiar with the idea of seed and feeds, they’re a kind of store that offers food for livestock and household pets and supplies for farmers, hence the name “seed and feed.”
While most seed and feeds are located in rural areas, they’re not entirely unknown in suburban and even urban areas — especially given the growing popularity of urban farming.
Seed and feeds are typically smaller, family-run operations. They’re the kind of places where you can get to know everybody who works there by name.
Don’t expect a lot of staff turnover; remember, this isn’t a big-box home improvement or pet store. Instead, what you’re likely to find is the kind of place where the staff has time to sit and talk with you if you have questions and even to carry your order out to your vehicle.
More on that last part in a bit!
Team Clark recently visited Marietta Seed and Feed in metro Atlanta and here’s what we learned:
You’ll get the inside scoop on products — and that can save you money
The owner of Marietta Seed and Feed wasn’t shy about doling out money-saving tips for pet owners the likes of which you probably wouldn’t learn at your local PetSmart.
For example, maybe you’re looking for a dewormer for your dog. Did you know that fenbendazole — the active ingredient in many dewormers — is also sold for horses in paste form at a cheaper price than it’s sold for canines in powder form?
Your local seed and feed knows that. And they’ll even tell you how much of the cheaper paste you need for your dog by weight.
In fact, this particular question comes up so much with shoppers that the seed and feed we visited made this handy illustration below. It shows the amount of horse dewormer paste you need for dogs ranging from 10 pounds to 100 pounds:
So how much money can you save buying equine dewormer paste instead of the same product marketed as powder for dogs?
Well, the paste is $12.50 at the seed and feed and will last infinitely longer than the package of three four-gram pouches that cost $12.90 before shipping on Chewy.com.
If you have multiple dogs you’re treating, horse dewormer paste from your local seed and feed is definitely the way to go. And that’s just one example of savings on pet supplies at a seed and feed. Here’s another…
Let’s say you have cats, as in plural. If they’re indoor cats, those felines are bound to go through a lot of cat litter. Maybe you want a dust-free litter experience in your home, so use pine litter. After all, the pine pellets turn to dust and neutralize the odor when cat urine touches them.
If you buy pine litter at your local grocery store, it’s not unusual to pay up to $10 for a 20-pound bag. On the same day we visited our seed and feed, a nearby grocery store had a 20-pound bag at a sale price of $8. That’s not bad if you’re accustomed to paying $10 regularly!
But thinking outside the box with the help of your local seed and feed can drastically lower the cost of your cat litter even further.
Consider this: Since seed and feeds cater to livestock, they naturally have pine pellet horse bedding.
Turns out this is the same product that’s sold for cat litter, only a 40-pound bag of it for horses sells for $8.75 at our seed and feed. So you’re getting twice as much product for less than what you’d pay at the supermarket, where it regularly sells for $9.99.
That’s a serious no-brainer!
By the way, notice a trend here? Some products that are marketed for horses can be used for domestic pets like cats and dogs at a substantial savings. That’s the kind of money-saving knowledge your local seed and feed can introduce into your life and your wallet.
Customer service is king
OK, so remember that 40-pound bag of pine pellets? The staff at your local seed and feed is likely to carry it to your vehicle for you.
That’s what happened at our seed and feed, even though we’re able-bodied, middle-aged and proud of it — and don’t need the assistance of any young whippersnapper to help up with our order…Yet!
But all jokes aside, customer service is king at seed and feeds. As a retail category, seed and feeds deliver the kind of personal attention after the sale you’d be hard-pressed to come across at a big-box store.
It all comes back to many seed and feeds being small, family-run businesses where the customer is put first.
You can customize your shopping experience
Not surprising given the name, one area where seed and feeds really excel is in the sale of a variety of seeds.
As any gardener can tell you, growing fruits, vegetables and legumes at different times of the year can supplement weekly grocery shopping and save a lot of money in the long run.
Throw in the idea of canning some of your bounty, and grow-it-yourselfers are looking at homegrown food all year round!
The seed and feed we visited sold a variety of seeds including watermelon, kale, collards, spinach, lima beans and soybeans, just to name a few.
The seeds were held in buckets and sold loose by the scoop based on the size of the seed. Small seeds were priced at $5 for a large scoop, while large seeds were priced at $3 a large scoop. (Both sizes of seeds were priced at $1 for a small scoop.)
Scoopers and packets were available so you could customize your mix, along with free copies of a seasonal planting schedule.
Price doesn’t tell the whole story — quality counts, too
Case in point: This bird seed.
After leaving our seed and feed, we stopped at a nearby grocery store and found a seven-pound bag of comparable bird seed for $7.49. If you double that, you’d have 14 pounds of bird seed for $15.
That price almost makes the seed and feed look like it’s not necessarily a good deal, but that’s before comparing ingredients.
The grocery store bird seed only has two ingredients — black oil sunflower and safflower seed. The bird seed from the seed and feed, however, goes one better with the inclusion of two more ingredients — sunflower meats and other grains — on top of the black oil sunflower and safflower seed.
So basically, you’re getting more nutritious whole plant food for your birds for only two dollars more.
The lesson is obvious: Price doesn’t always tell the full story. If you’re serious about your wild feathered friends, you’ve got to examine the quality of the food you’re buying, too.
It all comes back to comparison shopping
Sometimes, larger retailers just have better prices. This is just a fact of life. For example, our local seed and feed had Mane ‘n Tail shampoo and conditioner priced at $9 for a 32-ounce bottle.
Though originally formulated for horses, Mane ‘n Tail is widely used by people on their own hair and is in fact completely safe for human use, according to the company’s FAQs.
But here’s the thing: Your local grocery store may do a higher volume of business around a given product. That could give them a two-fold advantage in pricing over a smaller retailer like a seed and feed.
First, the supermarket’s high volume may equate to a lower price from the supplier, which in turn means a lower price for you.
And second, product field reps who put special coupons on products at high-volume businesses to move even more product are more likely to visit a larger retailer like a supermarket than a smaller retailer like a seed and feed.
Such was the case at our local supermarket, where the same 32-ounce bottle of Mane ‘n Tail was regularly priced at $6.19 — everyday pricing that’s almost $3 cheaper.
But the savings didn’t stop there; a fat $2 bonus coupon was hanging off the neck of the bottle in the supermarket aisle on this particular day!
That made the final price $4.19, which is less than half what the seed and feed charged for the same product.
So sometimes a smaller retailer just can’t compete on price with a larger one. Now, don’t misunderstand us: This is not a rant in favor of bigger retailers over smaller retailers. It’s just a reminder that your mind has to always be thinking about price every single time you shop anywhere.
You’re familiar with the old riff about the ABC method in the world of high-pressure sales — always be closing? Well, consider this the ABC method of Clark Smart consumerism — always be comparison-shopping.
You’ve got to be sure to regularly do your comparison shopping and keep your eyes open on price when you’re out and about, no matter where you’re shopping.
After all, it’s your money, you decide how you want to spend it!