Not Just a Feed Store

Anyone who thinks O’Malley’s Mercantile is just a feed store is in for a surprise when they step through the doors. In addition to premium-brand feed, there’s a lot of great potential gifts on display!

We at the Prairie Times have known the O’Malley’s for many years (Pop Bishop used to buy feed from them twenty-odd years ago and admired Kath for her “spunk and tenacity, hauling around feed bags with the best of the men!”). Kath ran the store alone until Mike retired from working at a bull farm, pipe laying, and trucking, and joined her in running the family business; he looks at her with a twinkle in his eye and says, “Kath has loaded more feed than most men have ever thought about!”

We were delighted to sit down for a chat with them recently, but first Kath pointed out her new woodworked counters. “These were hand-crafted by our customers, Terry and Jeremy Haggstrom of Hagstrom Custom Furniture. Our counters went from an eyesore to a point of pride,” she says. When asked what her favorite part of owning the Mercantile is, she answered, “The people keep us here. We’ve made lifelong friends!”

Considering they’ve been in business for 35 years, that’s no surprise! The O’Malley’s went into the business because of Kath’s background as a farm girl and her love for the lifestyle. Mike was all for it, since at fifteen he worked in a feed store in Littleton (then, a small country town!). The bonus has been spending so much time with their girls, all three of which worked in the store growing up (two have gone on to other careers, but Mary still works in the family business). Because it took up so many of their weekends, “The girls missed out on doing some of the things their friends got to do,” Kath says, “but they never complained!”

Gaining lifelong customers and friends starts with the O’Malley’s friendliness and builds on their choice to always give the customer the benefit of the doubt; for them, the customer is always right. “We’re not perfect at it,” Kath says, “but we try our best. Our customers are important to us.”

Like many small business owners, the O’Malley’s enjoy living so close to work. Mike says, “It’s nice to be able to have your cup of coffee in the morning without rushing out the door for a long drive to work, particularly in a snowstorm!”

The biggest shift in the feed business since they started was the dramatic change in their customers! In the beginning, they catered to rancher types and now their clients are mostly acreage owners living out the American dream on a smaller scale. “Many of the animals of our customers are pets,” Kath says. “They name their chickens and carry them around! They’re as much a part of the family as the dog is! I know one lady who has trained her chicken to come in the doggy door and lay an egg in a basket in the kitchen!”

O’Malley’s is a great place! They offer much more than animal feed—a large portion of the store is devoted to candles, clothing, purses and leather wallets, jewelry, locally made soap, wind chimes, natural products like salt, honey, and seasonings, cards, interior décor such as western and farm-themed artwork, and farm-related toys. I’ll see you there!