Hometown business success

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

When Tim and Judy Davis decided to open a feed store on Highway 3 in Yazoo City, they thought it would be an easy-going job. They did not foresee how much the business would grow in two short years, just by catering to the needs of their customers.

Davis Feed and Farm Supply arose out of a simple need for a feed and seed supply store for farmers and landowners in Yazoo County.

The Davis family had gotten tired of traveling long distances to buy their own supplies, and they decided to open a store locally inside a building they owned, which held the office for Davis Mini Storage.

"I really thought I was going to just open a feed store, prop my feet up on the counter, and watch Andy Griffith all day," said Tim. "But that didn't happen."

Tim and Judy originally started selling feed and seed in smaller bags, and in a smaller supply, but as customers started to flood in, the demand grew.

"We started selling animal feed and different kinds of seed in bulk 50-pound bags," said Tim. "Then people got to where they were ordering by the trailer load."

The market for bulk feed, seed, and even fertilizer for Yazoo County and the surrounding areas was so large that Davis Feed and Farm Supply started gaining more and more customers every week.

"We have pulled in a lot of business out of Greenwood," said Tim. "We've even gotten business from Attala County, Holmes County, and even from areas south of Jackson."

Because of the increasing customer base, Judy decided to bring in a few fruit trees and vegetable plants, and later expanded into flowers, garden pots, and lawn and patio decor.

"I thought I was just going to work in the office most of the time," Judy said.  "But customers would come up and ask if we could order certain things or if we would bring in other things that they needed, so we just started filling the needs of what they were looking for."

And fill needs they did.  Season after season, Davis Feed and Farm Supply has added more and more, until it has become an emporium of garden art, home decor, hand crafted gifts, hunting and fishing supplies, clothing and boots, bulk feed and seed, and bulk fertilizer.

"This location is great," said Judy. "It’s six acres; it’s kind of in an industrial area, and it’s a good place to store the feed and the pine straw.  We have a lot of space."

They capitalize on the amount of space they have on the property, often hosting events every season to draw in customers, such as small animal swaps on every fourth Saturday, the Magnolia Crappie Tournament, and they participate in the Holiday Open House.

Davis Feed and Farm Supply is very supportive of local schools in Yazoo City and Yazoo County, church and civic organizations, the Boys and Girls Club of Yazoo City, and also Yazoo County 4-H.

"Including the 4-H was really a special thing for me," said Judy. "4-H is really is so important for this whole community. It was so important for them to be able to give back to the community here, and introducing all of these people and children to what they do, especially the animal care, was really sweet."

Tim and Judy have been self-employed most of their lives, and they both love their daily interactions with customers. 

"The people who come in here, they become repeat customers," said Tim. "You get to where you enjoy talking to them because you have gotten to know them.” 

Tim also mentioned that he spends about half of his time visiting with customers and listening to hunting or fishing stories, and just visiting with different people as they come in.

Davis Feed and Farm supply employs between six to ten individuals depending on the season.  Tim and Judy's daughters, Karly and Kelsey, are often found helping out around the store, as well as Kelsey's fiance Bryan Lovelace, who has become a big asset to store operations.

"He came to work here over a year ago and he has been a great asset," said Judy, "Bryan is really good and swift at the computer, and knows how to do all the ordering. He really helps us out a lot."

Tim and Judy have passed their love of business down to their children, and they hope that the girls will continue the family business for many years to come.

Judy feels that the most rewarding part of owning their own business is getting to provide a service to the community, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility.

"You are servicing the community, and it really is quite rewarding to be able to do for others," said Judy.  "But it becomes your life, it’s night and day, seven days a week, but we like it that way."

Judy’s advice to young people or to families wanting to start a business is to become familiar with the process of buying and selling, learn how to use new technology and computer systems, and learn to live minimally while you build cash flow in the business.

"With a new business you cannot expect to take home a salary on a regular basis," said Judy. "If you have a lot of energy and willpower to get out there and hustle, you can do it, but just expect those first few years to be a lot harder than what you think."

Tim and Judy have invested a great deal of time and energy into Davis Feed and Farm Supply, and would not have made it this far if not for the patronage of the community.

"We have been totally blessed here," said Judy. "The people have been so good. The community has been so good. It’s just been overwhelming. We never knew that we would be as big as we are now."

Tim and Judy Davis, along with the rest of the family at Davis Feed and Farm Supply, will continue to provide excellent products and service to the Yazoo Community for years to come.  As long as the customers keep coming, they will continue to supply whatever your needs may be.