Local farm store commemorates 25 years
by: Garth Guibord, Geren's Farm Supply owner Les Geren feeds the bunnies in one of the store's most popular places, the Critter Corner.

During the first 17 years they owned Geren's Farm Supply, Les Geren and his wife, Kathy, didn't take a vacation longer than a three-day weekend.

Now, after working hard on the business for 25 years, the couple will bring a little vacation to their business with a quarter-century anniversary party at the store this weekend.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 29, the community will be invited to the store at 33680 S.E. Kelso Road in Boring for hot dogs, soda pop, cotton candy, snow cones, balloon animals, games, door prizes and an overall country fair atmosphere.

The store, which offers home and farm supplies - everything from feed to fish - also will feature special weekly pricing in August on general farm animals and pets.

When the Gerens purchased the farm-centric business - then called Mac's Feed Store - in 1981, Les worked as an agricultural teacher at Sandy High School, and Kathy worked at Fred Meyer.

Les learned from one of his students, whose parents owned the store, that Mac's was for sale. He immediately brought the prospect of owning the feed store to Kathy.

'I talked to my wife and said, 'Why not?' and she said, 'Why not?' ' Geren said.

On July 15, 1981, the pair borrowed money from the bank to buy the business, and Geren's Farm Supply opened its doors Aug. 1. 'There was not a lot of long-range planning that went into it,' Les admitted.

The Gerens ran on a skeleton crew at the outset of their venture. When they first began, Les would awaken at 6 a.m. to get a pickup-full of feed. Kathy would open the store by herself at around 9 a.m. They got up early, went to bed late and never took any long vacations.

'Small business becomes totally consuming,' Les said. 'If it succeeds, it becomes even more consuming.'

The couple stuck with it, and now they estimate they do 10 or 20 times as much business as they did when they first started.

Les says the reason Geren's has been so well-received has been that he and his wife made it stand out from the approximately 17 other area supply stores that were competition at one time or another.

The Critter Korner is one way Geren's differentiates. Since 1985, children have known that the feed store is also the place to find parakeets, hamsters, ducks and other animals in a year-round petting zoo (and pet shop).

'It doesn't matter what it sells because all the kids want to stop by,' Geren said of Critter Korner and the resident animals.

The big metal elephant, which is visible from Highway 26, is a creation by Firwood-area resident J.D Higgins. It originally stood on 82nd Avenue, but after the sculpture was vandalized at that location, Higgins asked Geren's if it could come to Boring.

Residents and travelers have used the septic tank-cutout pachyderm as a directional landmark for 21 years.

The Gerens are proud of the accomplishments and the friends they've made at the store over the past 25 years - but what about the next 25? Les, 56, and Kathy, 55, are in line for a major increase in some serious vacation time.

'We'll be out of here in five (years),' Geren said. 'Either our daughter will take it over, we'll hire a manager, or we'll sell it.'

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