By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN If the birds chirping in Delano sound a bit happier lately, maybe they’ve been munching on the fresh birdseed made at Spike’s Feed, Seed & Pet Supply.
The store opened recently at the old Delano Feed Mill on Railroad Avenue, and owner Mike “Spike” Persons said he’s looking forward to supplying wholesome products and convenient service.
“This is a great spot,” he said, explaining that customers can drive through the mill and load up, without even parking their cars.
“It’s handicapped accessible and can be used year-round,” Persons said.
Instead of carrying big-box brands, Spike’s sticks to local labels like Meadow Ridge Farm and Croixdale Farms.
“We do as much Minnesota-made as we can,” Persons said. “We make birdseed here, and we also have everything from dog food to softener salt. We have a unique product line.”
Persons has owned the store building since 1997, but had been leasing it to a different company for the past eight years.
“I used to run the mill. Later, I sold the business and kept the building,” he said.
When the tenant moved on at the beginning of 2011, Persons took the opportunity to start his own business.
“I couldn’t abandon this,” he said.
Years ago, Persons ran a trucking business, and he plans to use that knowledge to deliver feed to farms in the greater Twin Cities area.
“We’re nimble,” Persons said, explaining that in addition to delivery, Spike’s is also able to do manufacturing and retail.
Persons aims to create a welcoming atmosphere for his customers.
“It’s clean here,” he said. “There are no ripped bags, cardboard, or empty pallets lying around.”
Large feedbags for horses, chickens, and other farm animals are available at the store, as well as small feed quantities for pets such as gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, and dogs.
Spike’s is planning to offer a few organic feed products, as well.
Grass seed specifically for Minnesota, deer blocks and minerals, and a small section of dairy and sheep products are also on display.
“We have a broad base of horse feed, including performance and specialty selections,” said JRK Seed general manager Alan Schaffer, who is affiliated with Spike’s.
“We’re also going to do custom blending for people,” Persons said, adding that many places aren’t able to offer that.
One asset that makes Spike’s stand out is the employees’ familiarity with various feed types.
“We’re pretty good at customer service and product knowledge,” Persons said.
Spike’s is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday (Wednesdays until 7 p.m.). On Saturdays, it is open 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“It’s really going to be fun,” Persons said.