Seed, feed and 26 flavors: Oregon’s Tillamook Coast is a farm store haven

Feed and farm stores have long been a cornerstone of rural communities. While many have gone the way of drive-in movies and rotary dial telephones, on Oregon’s Tillamook Coast, farm stores thrive. That’s because the county continues to thrive as a farming center for dairy, produce and livestock.

First-timers to the Tillamook County Creamery Association’s Farm Store, on Ivy Avenue in the town of Tillamook, may be surprised to find how much more than a farm store this place really is. Oh sure, you can buy feed and seed and all that good stuff. But that’s just the start of it.

“We have an extensive stock of pet food and supplies, fencing, and wild bird food,” says manager Todd Johnson. “Locals tell visitors to buy their cheese here, because we really do have some good prices. And we carry the whole line of cheese the association produces. Plus ice cream—26 different flavors.”

The Farm Store got its start in 1927 as a feed mill for Co-op members. While the building – still in its original spot –was updated in 1960, it’s never lost that feeling of a by-gone era. It retains the ambience of a country store with a friendly, helpful staff. And while it has a small showroom, there’s plenty of inventory. You’ll find treasures stacked atop other treasures.

“Visitors tell us the store has that old flair to it,” says Johnson. “The floors have a patina, showing the age, but with dignity.”

Johnson’s been at the store for the last 20 years, long enough to remember when the young parents brought in their babies, now grown up and driving the family pickup in for supplies.

“I was on the Future Farmers of America advisory board and helped these kids with FFA and 4H projects, and now they’re running the farms,” Johnson says. “They are going to the meetings and helping with projects, and they’ve become my customers.”

And no doubt, as it seems most who come through these doors, are destined to be friends.

“I like people, I like our customers, and we like to joke around here,” Johnson says. “The world seems so heavy and a lot of things are serious. It’s nice to come in and have a bit of levity.”

The Tillamook County Creamery Association Farm Store is at 4 Ivy Ave. in Tillamook. There is also one at 4175 Highway 101 North in Tillamook, a feed store at 34295 Highway 101 South in Cloverdale.

Joby Nelson, Farm Store clerk; Mike Christensen, Farm Store assistant manager, and Todd Johnson, Farm Store manager

 

Lori Tobias
Lori Tobias is a journalist of more than 25 years, most recently as a staff writer for The Oregonian for which she covered the Oregon Coast for a decade. She currently writes a regular column for Oregon Coast Today and freelances for numerous other local, state and national publications. Her novel "Wander" is due out from Red Hen Press in 2016.

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