Sebastopol feed store has become West Sonoma County’s country emporium
By Tim Tesconi
Frizelle-Enos Feeds, the oldest continuously operated business in Sebastopol, has evolved with the small town it has called home since 1938, becoming a favorite meeting place for the interesting mix of people who live in western Sonoma County.
Over the last 75 years, Frizelle Enos, located at 265 Petaluma Avenue near the old railroad tracks that once ran the train through town, has continually reinvented itself to reflect the community it serves. The business has been transformed from a feed mill making and selling just livestock and chicken feed to a country emporium offering new age pet food, organic chicken scratch for backyard egg farmers, wood stoves, unique gifts and country clothing like Carhartt jackets and Wrangler jeans.
Like the post office, everyone in the community eventually finds their way to Frizelle Enos for one thing or another. Liberals and conservatives, urban and rural, new wave and old-timers, plus 4-H and FFA members, come together over pet food and alfalfa at Frizelle Enos, which is open seven days a week to meet the needs of its customers. Co-owner Glenn Bach said Frizelle Enos prides itself on offering full service and its institutional knowledge along with the cat food and hog mash. Frizelle Enos employees are country people who grew up on farms and ranches or have pets and farm animals themselves, sharing their know-how on everything from feeding horses and goats to the best remedy for a dog suffering from seasonal allergies.
“If our customers have questions we give them answers or we get the answers for them. That’s part of what we offer as a small, hometown store,” said Bach, the general manager of the Frizelle Enos in Sebastopol. In addition, the store holds evening seminars on topics ranging from backyard poultry to sheep and goat feeding for its customers who are getting started with small farm projects. The store holds pet vaccination clinics every two weeks and works with the Humane Society of Sonoma County in cat adoption.
The community chalk board along the loading dock at Frizelle Enos tells the story of the rural community the store serves. The “For Sale” listings on the chalk board include pipe panels for horse corrals, duck eggs ($6 a dozen), Bantam roosters, a nanny goat, pony and much more. The community bulletin board lists events happening in and around Sebastopol. Each month the boards are wiped clean, allowing a new slate of postings for that free llama or Grange Pancake breakfast.
Bach, who ran the feed mill for Petaluma Poultry for more than 20 years, and two partners, Don Benson, owner of Rivertown Feeds in Petaluma, and Darrel Freitas, a former co-owner of Petaluma Poultry, bought Frizelle Enos in 2010 from Tenny and Linda Tucker. The Tuckers had owned Frizelle Enos since 1998 when they purchased the business from Jack Kuhwarth, who had owned it since 1984.
Bach, Freitas and Benson have established a second Frizelle Enos store in Penngrove. Freitas manages the Penngrove Store. Between the two stores there are 27 employees. It’s a family operation that includes Bach’s son, Jason Bach, and Benson’s son, Keith Benson, who both work at the Frizelle Enos in Penngrove.
Frizelle Enos is deeply involved in the community. It is a member and generous supporter of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, donating to Farm Bureau’s auction at the Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest. It’s a buyer of market animals at the Sonoma County Fair. At this year’s fair, Frizelle Enos bought the supreme champion pen of meat chickens for a record $1,700.
In December, Frizelle Enos hosted a mixer for the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce. Bach said Frizelle Enos is a big supporter of the Sebastopol Community Center because it’s a way to give back to a large and varied part of the community, the very people who patronize the store. Additionally, Frizelle Enos works with 4-H and FFA members who are raising livestock and poultry for the Sonoma County Fair and other summer fairs.
Frizelle Enos is the last names of the two proprietors who owned the store from 1947 until 1966, establishing the business as a mainstay in Sebastopol. The name has survived a number of owners, who kept the unusual name because of its positive image in the small community.
Bach said he and his partners didn’t even consider changing the name and, in fact, do their best to stay behind the scenes, putting the focus on the longtime employees who are the face of the store.
Those longtime employees include store supervisor Tony Renati and his wife Stacey Renati, who have both been at Frizelle Enos for 14 years. Stacey Renati, who oversees the gift department, is the daughter of former Frizelle Enos owners, Tenny and Linda Tucker.
Sales clerk Julie Seth has been ringing up sales of rabbit pellets, flea powder and other merchandise for 18 years, a familiar and continuing presence in the store. Others working the sales counter include Misty Carstarphen, a dog trainer always willing to share her expertise on all things canine, Debbi Logan and Valerie Clark. Kevin Sharp has been a truck driver at Frizelle Enos since 2005. Sharon Lewis, a horse owner, shares her equine expertise with customers at Frizelle Enos in Penngrove.
Dianne Steele, who raises cattle, is Frizelle Enos’ buyer for the store’s lines of pet foods, veterinary supplies and other pet-related merchandise. Steele and Tony Renati oversee the day-to-day operations as well as inventories and the work force. Frizelle Enos keeps a constant pulse on the community, following trends so that the store’s merchandise is current and relevant – like having feed and supplies for the increasing number of backyard farmers keeping laying hens for fresh eggs. In recent years, said Renati, the value of the inventory at Frizelle Enos in Sebastopol has increased from $300,000 to more than $600,000, primarily with increased supplies of high-end pet foods, gift items, work clothes and Western wear.
Bach said he’s pleased when customers tell him that they did not know Frizelle Enos had changed hands, now more than two years ago. His job, he said, is to keep a good thing going while enhancing the merchandise, service and expertise that customers have come to expect at the store.
Bach said while Frizelle Enos stills serves old ranching families, the store also is the go-to place for hobby farmers and people with small parcels of land interested in growing more of their own food.
“We carry organic feeds for their livestock and poultry,” said Bach. He grew up in Farmington, Missouri where he worked on farms and in feed stores, learning the feed and grain business while acquiring a farmer’s work ethic. He is past president of the California Grain and Feed Association and remains an active member of the organization.
Bach said the challenge for the feed business and its customers is the rising costs of hay and grain. Prices have skyrocketed because of weather calamities like the Midwest drought. Shortages, coupled with increasing global demand, are pushing feed and grain prices higher and higher.
Like many of his customers, Bach, a resident of Petaluma, lives on rural property with his son and daughter-in-law, Jason and Laura Bach, and their children, Addison, 4, and Jackson, 3. The three generations work together to care for the farm animals. Bach gets up at 5 a.m. each day to do his share of the feeding before heading to work at Frizelle Enos.
“My family has cows, hogs, chickens and a couple of horses,” said Bach, living the rural lifestyle that defines the culture at Frizelle Enos.
Frizelle Enos Feeds in Sebastopol
265 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Frizelle Enos Feeds in Penngrove
100035 Main St., Penngrove
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday