By Sheila Phibbs
The Haldimand Press
CAYUGA—After more than four decades, Cayuga Pets ‘n More (formerly known as Cayuga Feed and Farm Supply) will be closing its doors. The longevity of the business is a testament to the hard work and dedication of owners Randy and Linda Carter and highlights the impact of shopping local.
Randy Carter was a young entrepreneur when he first bought the feed mill next to the Cayuga bridge at the age of 20 in 1979. He opened Cayuga Feed and Farm Supply and produced some of his own feeds. The limited retail space attached to the mill became cramped, which led to a move across the road in the late 1990s to rent the former DeSantis Springs factory.
By 2004, Randy was feeling the health effects of working in the dust from feed production. He says, “My lungs and sinuses are pooched.”
He and Linda decided to re-brand as Cayuga Pets ‘n More, purchasing the property as Ranlin Ltd. Linda explains, “Pets were definitely a growing market, and it seemed a good thing to put our focus on. There has been growth all along and it took a considerable amount of time to build to what it is today.”
Facilitating that growth were positive relationships established with both suppliers and customers. Purchasing in bulk enabled them to pass discounts on to customers. Offering a diverse range of products and services also contributed to customer satisfaction. Linda credits Randy with much of their success as she says, “He doesn’t shirk work. He doesn’t sleep in. He doesn’t call in sick… He just keeps going. If people had any idea how many hours this man has put in, they would be stunned.”
She adds, “People call me Wonder Woman because of my name, but he truly is as decent as Clark Kent and as hard working as Superman.”
It is that commitment that makes the decision to close difficult, but the opportunity to sell the property will allow the couple to pursue other interests. Randy enjoys woodworking as a hobby and would enjoy working with a skilled carpenter for the learning experience. Linda would eventually like to work with plants.
Not surprisingly, however, their first priority is to their customers. The Carters reached an agreement for Cayuga Home Hardware to continue selling the products previously available at Cayuga Pets ‘n More.
Linda says, “The beauty of Home Hardware buying our inventory means that we don’t have to stress about liquidating everything … but we will try to make sure that all of the consumable products that people really need will never run out of stock. If Cayuga Pets runs out of something, Home Hardware will order it in. Whatever Cayuga Pets hasn’t run out of upon closing will go down the road to the hardware store.”
Reflecting on their years in business, Randy sums up the highlights in two words: “The people.”
Customers, whether long-time or new, became friends. The couple also values their relationships with their staff. Barb Walker worked with Randy for many years and Linda says, “He adores her to this day.” Linda speaks highly of their current employee, Tamara, saying, “She has a wit and an intellect that we have benefited from both personally and professionally.”
Decades of running a store in a small town has given the Carters the unique opportunity to know generations of families. Linda says, “The little children that were running around while he delivered as a young man are now the ones operating the family farms. The kids that came in with their first puppy are the ones that are now getting puppies for their children. (Randy) has enjoyed that part.”
To their loyal customers Linda says, “Thanks for all the second chances. Thanks for trusting us to fix the things we sometimes screw up. Thanks for thinking of us first, even if we don’t have what you need. Thanks for every now and then bringing us chocolate milk and cookies. Our customers are the best!”
Those customers can be grateful for the support Cayuga Pets ‘n More has given the community over the years, including sports teams, service clubs, church groups, 4-H, saddle clubs, and agriculture associations. Considering this Linda says, “There are many reasons to shop local. People want employment … they want sponsorship … they want economic growth. They need to realize they need to shop local. Without our loyal customers continuing to come to us first to see if we can take care of their needs, we wouldn’t have been able to keep going.”
She adds, “We can appreciate that people need to get the best bang for their buck. But if it costs a nickel more from the local guy, just think of what that nickel is buying for your community.”
With that in mind the Carters encourage customers to continue to shop in Cayuga for their pet supply needs at the Home Hardware. Linda says, “We are going to do our best to help facilitate this transition. We both think that it will be good for the town to keep commerce here.”
From selling pet food to creating jobs to sponsoring teams, Cayuga Pets ‘n More has, indeed, been good for the town. When the doors close and the Carters take the time to pursue other aspirations, you can be sure they will continue to be good for the town too.