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BF Feeds hoping to provide local, small-town service in era of co-ops

By Cara L. Dempski

GLENWOOD CITY — Any farmer will tell you the key to raising good animals is feeding them correctly.

Sometimes, though, the necessary feed is subject to a high markup to keep stores and feed cooperatives profitable while meeting overhead costs.

That is something John Bazille, owner of BF Feeds at the former Rassbach’s location in Glenwood City, is hoping to change for local farmers.

“If I can keep the overhead low, I can keep the prices low,” Bazille said earlier this week.

While the store has been open since September, Bazille and his wife Holly will be holding a grand opening celebration October 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The opening will give people a chance to talk to the owners, take a look around the store, and enjoy a free lunch of pork sandwiches.

Bazille said farmers with small herds, or those who have only a few animals, rely on small stores like BF to keep stock fed and healthy, often picking up feed on a weekly basis due to lack of available storage at home.

The store is open until 7 p.m. most nights, meaning those who do not farm regularly and work other jobs during the day can stop at the store to pick up feed, unlike other businesses that regularly close at 5 p.m.

The River Falls-area farmer and his family have a small herd of beef cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, all of which they show. Bazille is hoping he can not only help the local farmers keep their stock happy, but also provide a place for young livestock exhibitors to find things like halters and grooming supplies.

BF Feeds is not the couple’s first store. Bazille owned another small store near Spring Valley for approximately five or six years before closing it and going to work for another local feed store.

“We just decided to bring one back to Glenwood that used to be here,” he explained of his location choice. “Rassbach’s was here for over 40 years. He retired and none of the kids wanted to take over, and I just decided to reopen it.”

Right now, Bazille rents the space, but hopes to purchase the building sometime in the next few years. His choice of Rassbach’s as his new store location was heavily based on the rent price being right, and the smaller size of the existing building.

Though Bazille is currently the only employee working regularly at the store, he has some help from Holly. By having just his rent and electricity, and store merchandise and feed stock to cover in monthly expenses, the business owner hopes to keep the business healthy and growing.

Bazille is even willing to provide delivery for people residing in town who are unable to lift the heavy feed or pet food sacks purchased at the store.

John and Holly would like for the business to stay small.

“I don’t want a great big, 30,000 square foot building,” Bazille said. “I’d rather have smaller, like this, in different towns, and supply them daily with stuff, than have a big place where you have to have 10 employees to run it.”

One thing Bazille likes about the small store is being his own boss, and calling his own shots.

“If someone comes in looking for something specific, I can call up the supplier and get it for him right away,” he noted. “Farmers usually can’t afford to wait.”

BF Feeds is open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The store is located at 227 West Oak Street in Glenwood City. For more information, John Bazille can be reached at 715-684-9529.