Gaston Feed the same, but different
A new manager will help guide the longtime store's future transformation
For nearly two decades, Gaston Feed and Hardware has stood on the main road running through the town for which it's named, all the while providing for customers' shifting needs.
Dave Rohrer has owned the business since 1993, but it isn't the same as when he opened it. He's made a lot of changes over the years, adjusting with the community.
In the beginning, Rohrer was hauling hay to other feed stores and farms, using the building that now houses Gaston Feed for hay storage.
He started out with one employee and six pallets of horse feed.
According to Rohrer, when he opened his feed store there had not been a new business in Gaston - at least not one that started and stayed for an extended period of time - in 50 years.
'It's a hard place to do business; we just don't have enough [of a] population,' said Rohrer.
He's managed to keep it all going, though. 'We offer products customers want at prices they want, and good service,' said Rohrer.
He's also adapted to shifts in the economy and customers' changing desires. At first, he sold mostly feed for animals and livestock, but as time passed he expanded his inventory and services.
Now, while still selling feed for horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and other livestock, the store stocks hardware, Carhartts apparel, hats, boots, horse tack, pet supplies, household items, Husqvarna equipment products, and, coming soon, Napa hardware products.
Customers can also stop by for small engine repair services and to visit Kathy Jensen for dog grooming.
Last year, Rohrer made another change. John Terry is now the store's manager, replacing Carrie Saxe, Rohrer's daughter, who now focuses on outside sales.
Terry grew up in Washington County and moved to Gaston 11 years ago, where he has been a farmer, a farm manager and the owner of a gunsmith shop.
Terry said he loves Gaston's close-knit atmosphere and managing the local feed store. He knows just about everyone in town and does his best to run a good store people will feel comfortable coming into.
'We're just working hard and trying to do the best for them,' said Terry.
His favorite thing about managing the store is getting to meet new people every day, while still getting to visit with all the regular customers.
Terry frequently runs from the back storeroom to the front, where he greets customers and those who have stopped in to say 'hi.'
'When you love what you're doing there are really no challenges,' Terry said.
There's a musical twist to Terry's fortunes, as well.
At the front counter, Gaston Feed customers will see CDs for sale with 'Johnny Terry' on the cover. The manager and musician plays five instruments and learned a lot from his father and grandfather, who also had a love for music.
Terry started playing at local venues when he was 11 years old and toured the country for a number of years after 'connecting with the right people.'
He's taken a break from his tour days for now, though, and enjoys being settled in Gaston, which he said has a 'small town connectedness.'
Terry still practices gunsmithing, which he describes as his true love, out of his home. He encourages locals who need any gun parts made or repaired to stop by and see him.