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A Family Tradition

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  • 7 min to read
20210405 Floyds Feed 1.jpg

Cliff Williams / The Outlook Daniel Floyd, right, helps a customer at check out as Fay Floyd, left, checks on another customer Monday in the new garden center at Floyd’s Feed and Seed in Dadeville.

Two generations , 40 years and Floyd’s Feed and Seed still growing

Little has changed at Floyd’s Feed and Seed in four decades.

Oh, there is one major change for the Dadeville mainstay — the new garden center just across the street will be its second location, more than doubling the space of the family business. Another change is Fay Floyd is letting her children slowly take over the business she and her husband Vern started in November 1981. But just because Floyd’s Feed and Seed has gotten bigger doesn’t mean its habits are changing or that Ms. Fay doesn’t still rule the roost. Ms. Fay’s recipe for the business has meant four decades of success.

Everyone walking through the door of the Dadeville business is greeted with a hello and customer service is always first. But Ms. Fay hasn’t walked away from the business yet.

“You need some help honey?” Ms. Fay asked a customer Monday morning almost as soon as she walked in the door.

Another customer walking was quickly welcomed with, “Hey there, how are you?” from Ms. Fay. “You look like you are ready to go to work.”

The customer was looking for sunflower seeds.

“You want a 50 pound bag?” Ms. Fay asked.

Customer service is king for the matriarch who has been leading Floyd’s Feed and Seed in Dadeville for the last four decades.

“That is the main thing that has made our business; let the customer know they are welcome and you will take care of them no matter what,” Ms. Fay said. “That is our formula for success more than anything, more than what we sell is taking care of the customer.

“The worst thing you can do is ignore someone when they walk in the door and act like they are not there. You can lose more customers doing that than you can overcharging or undercharging. They have got to know you are there for them.”

Such has been the Floyd’s Feed and Seed way since Ms. Fay and her husband Tilford ‘Vern’ Floyd opened the local establishment.

Ms. Fay left for Indiana when she was 3 years old, meeting her husband and having four children. At 30 Ms. Fay moved back home and the couple figured out how to feed four hungry boys — the twins David and Daniel, plus Dennis and Dusty.

“We tried to figure out what we could do to earn a living,” Ms. Fay said. “I loved animals. The kids loved animals. It seemed to be a good thing for this part of the country.”

The Floyds bought the first building and opened. The feed store was supposed to help supplement the family’s farm operation.

“I always loved horses, so when we got down here we got horses and cows, pigs,” Ms. Fay said. “We started out trying to do pigs for a living — that was stupid. It was the same time we had the store. You don’t make any money on feed. You sell it but that is about it.

“We sold the pigs and got cows. Then we ended up with 18 horses. From there to here we just kept on it, kept working.”

Luckily for Ms. Fay, the boys and Vern loved to hunt. The hunting helped put food on the table but not just because it was less expensive. They liked deer meat.

“(We) didn’t do much hunting in Indiana but did when we got here,” Ms. Fay said. “They loved deer.

One winter we ate one whole cow and probably 10 deer. They would get to cooking as I went to school. When I came home there would be a big platter just piled up with deer meat, steak meat, it was a protein supper a lot of times.”

The children were young and involved in the family business. Dennis worked the cash register. “He liked the money,” Ms. Fay said.

The others worked too. As the children grew up, the business did too. Floyd’s Feed and Seed started in one building, then it expanded.

“We bought Roger’s place next door; he had an old TV repair shop,” Ms. Fay said. “It now has saddles and stuff. We then bought the back lot and built a warehouse. Then we bought the other side and put in clothing. Then we bought the old Piggly Wiggly. It is the fifth piece of property we have bought to expand the business.”

The Floyds will gather Saturday for a grand opening of Floyd’s Feed and Seed garden center occupying the old Piggly Wiggly building once owned by the Butcher family. It’s a dream come true for Ms. Fay.

“When this place went up for sale, I found out how much it cost and said I would never be able to buy that place,” Ms. Fay said. “I kept praying about it and praying about it, made them an offer and they took it.”

The old grocery store is a perfect place for Ms. Fay to spread out some of the inventory of Floyd’s Feed and Seed and expand the garden center. Opened for four weeks now, Ms. Fay is already getting customer feedback.

“They love it; I have not had one complaint,” Ms. Fay said. “Everyone that comes in here tells me how they like it; how there is more room for them and they can shop. Over there, they had problems finding things because it was just packed in there.

“You got to have it where they can see it. We could have sold 10 times as much of the decorative stuff over the years if they could see it. If it is not hanging on the wall, it's sitting in front of them.”

Dennis and Daniel returned to work with Ms. Fay about five years ago. Dennis retired after 20 years of teaching music at Auburn City Schools.

“He was here about two weeks when Danny came to me,” Ms. Fay said. “He wanted to come back too. I had a position open. We have been a trio ever since.”

Ms. Fay is happy her boys are close. Dusty still operates his own tree service; David is at home after a stroke. All the Floyds are nearby and happy working in the community.

“It means a lot to have them up around me,” Ms. Fay said. “The Lord has blessed us with this business. Even when my husband broke his back in ‘84, my mom was here then and kind of took care of everything. We have been through a lot but have been blessed by the Lord. The place kept running and the people kept coming. That is what it takes.”

Even the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow the business.

“You worry about how you are going to pay bills and pay employees if we get shut down,” Ms. Fay said. “Everyone moved to the lake and here they came and we never slowed down. We had our biggest year ever last year.”

Ms. Fay said customers were looking for landscaping materials and gardening things too.

“We sold out of seeds; we couldn’t get anymore,” Ms. Fay said. “It hadn’t happened to us before.

“It was a super blessing. They kept coming and we kept selling. It was just fun.”

Even stopping to share the history of Floyd’s Feed and Seed and her sons working, Ms. Fay still made sure customers were being taken care of.

“Hey Ms. Gayle, how are you? You doing good?” Ms. Fay asked the customer.

The customer described some health issues.

“Bless your heart,” Ms. Fay responded. “Oh my goodness.”

Ms. Fay still has ideas for the new space.

“I have a big tall bear waterfall at my house,” Ms. Fay said. “I have had it for seven or eight years. I bought it for the store but I thought, ‘Where am I going to put it in the other place without it getting broken?’

“I’ll bring it here and set it up in the garden center. Things like that, we buy things because they are so cute and think people will like them, but we don’t have any place to display them until now. We are planning to get all that done but we won’t get everything done by Saturday.”

Ms. Fay takes notes from customers to help make lists to buy inventory for the store, a process that can take months.

“Sometimes I over order; I have to be cautious,” Ms. Fay said. “I enjoy shopping. Dennis does too.”

Dennis took a short break and propped up at the cash register. A customer walks up to check out.

“A few things have changed in 40 years,” Dennis said. “It’s all plastic now, a little cash.”

Dennis and Ms. Fay travel to about three trade shows a year to prebook inventory.

“It’s all the stuff we are going to sell in the spring,” Ms. Fay said. “If you don’t prebook it you might not get it. You figure by what you sold last year and what you think you will this year and book it in. If you think it will sell good, you better book it to get it in.”

It doesn’t mean Ms. Fay hasn’t had some misses.

“I have had a lot of white elephants,” Ms. Fay said. “I’ll go to those things and they will have it set up so pretty. I think it will be good. ‘Yeah Fay, if you had enough room it might.’”

The extra space will help customers see the inventory and there are plans to expand the selection.

“We like to put in some swings and things a garden center has,” Ms. Fay said. “We talk about putting in some blowers and weed eaters, things like that but it is not here yet. We are seeing what people want.”

A customer approaches Ms. Fay asking about a good price on an item not currently in stock at Floyd’s Feed and Seed.

“When we have them, they are $13 apiece,” Ms. Fay said.

The customer paused for second, collecting herself over the deal.

“I stopped somewhere and they were $32 apiece,” the customer said.

Floyd said the item was on order.

“We are hoping to get some in but they have run out of a lot of stuff,” Ms. Fay said.

The boys are slowly taking over but Ms. Fay does step in to make sure everything is done.

“I’m letting them pretty much make the decision, well we all do, but I’m letting them plan a lot because I’m not going to always be here,” Ms. Fay said. “I still have to stay on it. It’s not about losing money now, I have to make sure the stock gets reordered. They will be busy and not write it down.”

Danny said the work is still hard and includes a lot of things not seen in a corporate business.

“We do it all up here,” Danny said. “Fix the toilet, clean the toilet, sweep, it’s part of it. It is just like at home, you have to do it. At the house you can’t call somebody everytime it happens, you just have to jump in there.”

Ms. Fay said, “It’s all on us.”

Danny said his mother has shown him a thing or two about running Floyd’s Feed and Seed.

“She taught me everything I know,” Danny said. “She taught me a lot over the years; I remembered most of it after I came back. It’s like riding a bicycle. One thing did and does change — the prices, they go up most every year.”

Suppliers may go up on prices but Ms. Fay said Floyd’s Feed and Seed won’t gouge the customer. While some things might change around the store, one thing will never change — customer service.

“We try our best to please everybody,” Ms. Fay said. “We mess up sometimes like everybody else, but we try to make it right, be man enough to apologize for whatever we did wrong. I believe we were blessed because we love people. We try to make sure they get their money’s worth and everything we do for them is the right thing.”

Age might be catching up to Ms. Fay and she can’t sling the 50 pound sacks of feed and fertilizer around like she once could she still enjoys customers.

“I love to sit here,” Ms. Fay said. “If I can’t work, I love to sit here and talk to people. Say hi and make sure everyone is alright.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.