One Long Rollercoaster Ride: The Feed Store Reopens in Sebastopol’s Historic Frizelle Enos Building
By Rachel LaFranchi
When Stacey and Tony Renati stood watching the Frizelle Enos feed store go up in flames what stood out was the overwhelming community support: the whole town seemed to be hugging and crying over the place the Renatis had worked for the last 15 years. That was the moment the Renatis understood what the store meant to the community and knew they needed to reopen it.
Renamed The Feed Store, the Renatis have been looking forward to reopening. “We are just excited to have the door open and do what we’re most comfortable with – serving our customers,” said Stacey.
But the journey wasn’t as easy as they expected. The store burned to the ground in July 2013 after a transient set fire the building, yet the Renatis were hopeful the store would be up and running again before the 2014 holidays. With endless regulations to follow and permits taking longer than expected, that date was pushed back to the first of the year, but as January passed they realized the first of March was more realistic.
“Starting a business from scratch is one heck of a learning experience,” said Stacey. “There is more to do than you ever think of,” added Tony.
The Renatis are excited that their employees started working the last week of February to add the finishing touches before the store is opened. The Feed Store’s employees were also eager for the store to open up. Some employees hadn’t worked since the store closed while others had already given two weeks’ notice at their other jobs.
The Renatis realize they are “starting off with bare bones”. The only have 14 employees compared to the 22 the store had before the fire. However, of the 14 employees, half are returning staff members who had worked at Frizelle Enos and the others are very knowledgeable. Stacey said they received lots of resumes from people who grew up coming in the store and wanted to be part of bringing it back.
Alongside the returning employees, The Feed Store contains many other parts of the old store. The rustic tin used inside the store was recycled from outside the building before the fire. The tin is Stacey’s favorite part of the rebuilt store. The Renatis also used hogwire that had been around chicken coops to build their balcony railing outside the offices that overlook the store.
The Renatis did their best to make the store feel similar to the old Frizelle Enos store. “We tried really hard to bring the look back,” said Stacey. Tony pointed out the wooden rafters that the Renatis opted for instead of a cheaper drop ceiling, he knows the rafters were important to the look of the old store.
While there are visible changes such as a larger cat and dog food section, many of the changes to The Feed Store are hard to see. The Feed Store now gets its electricity from new solar panels installed on the roof. Most importantly are the fire protections the new store will have. Between the pet feed and the livestock feed is a fire wall built with four layers of sheet rock. The large roll up door in the wall is built to protect against fire damage – if the cable becomes hot enough it will snap and the door will automatically shut. The Feed Store is now home to an extensive sprinkler system as well.
The most obvious change to previous customers will be the store name. The Renatis chose The Feed Store for its simplicity; they know it’s a name that won’t cause any confusion. Another name seriously considered was “The Pheonix”, but the symbolic rising from the ashes seemed too dramatic. Other names for the store included “Renati’s” and “Tony’s”, but none of these sounded right to Tony or Stacey. The Renatis know that many will still call the store Frizelle Enos. “We’re okay with that,” said Stacey, “the name really belongs to the town.”
With a new name, eager owners and employees, The Feed Store is very near opening. Tony had put off ordering feed, something he wanted to do at the last minute so it would be as fresh as possible, but that order has now been placed and the store is ready to become a bustling business once again.
The Renatis are eager to open their doors. They boast of the wood, gas and pellet stoves; home goods including novelty socks and greeting cards; fuel and of course a large selection of feed. But most importantly, the store will offer excellent customer service. “Customer service is our biggest goal,” said Stacey, “it always has been and always will be.”
The Renatis are thankful for the community support that Tony says “has been nothing but positive”. They describe their journey of reopening as one long rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, but they are glad to be at the end of the chapter and beginning the next one.
“I can’t wait to see the people coming back through the doors,” said Tony. Stacey agrees with her husband and both are eager for the store to come to life and have the distinctive smell of a feed store once again.
They're open! The Feed Store is located at 265 Petaluma Ave in Sebastopol. Stop by, say hello and check out the rebuilt store!