For Scott and Tracy Brandow, buying the family business was a homecoming.
Brandow’s Feed and Seed, in Otego, was purchased by the third generation of Brandows in 2005. The couple rebranded the merchandising to reflect the interests of the community, and despite the economic woes of many other businesses at the time, the Brandows were successful in their venture.
They were able to open a second location in Walton in 2010.
“We have geared our merchandise more toward the pets,” said Scott Brandow. “Unfortunately, we are not seeing as many farms as we used to. More people have companion animals these days.”
The store welcomes pets of any kind. They truly see companion animals as part of a family unit. In addition to Scott and Tracy, the Brandow family includes two children, several dogs, some horses and a collection of various breeds of fowl.
Wednesday afternoon, Susan Youngs of Unadilla brought her Rottweiler puppy, Rahl, shopping at Brandows for a new harness, some toys and shampoo. Work stopped as employees gushed over the puppy.
“I come here often,” Youngs said. “It is the best place to come for all my doggy needs.”
The 21st-century Brandow’s sells products for pets, small farms, gardens, wild birds and animal lovers. The couple said they try to stock local products.
“We buy our hay and straw from local people,” Tracy said. “Whenever we can, we try to purchase local — or least made in the U.S.”
Dustin Sperry, of Davenport, has managed the Otego store for the past four years. He said he enjoys the work and appreciates the effort the Brandows make to everyone — employees and customers — feel like family.
“We have the family frequent buyer plan, where the customer buys so many bags and then gets a bag free,” Sperry said. “Some people get so excited when they come in for their dog food and we say there is no charge.
“We have a loyal customer base. People come back and we get to know them.”
Customer service has been a trademark of Brandow’s Feed and Seed since Scott and Tracy aquired the business.
“It’s funny, because a lot of times people are surprised when we load the feed for them,” Tracy Brandow said.
In addition to running two stores, the Brandows are active in the community. The stores host various seminars such as “chicken chats,” 4-H club animal care and horse-owner advice. They often support nonprofit fundraisers.
The original Brandow’s Feed and Seed was located on Market Street in Oneonta, on the site of the current Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center. Scott Brandow’s grandfather ran an old-fashioned feed and seed store there that serviced the needs of area farmers. He later moved the store to its current Otego location.
While growing up, Scott worked in his grandfather’s store. After graduating from high school, he went to Herkimer County Community College. He then traveled around the Northeast working for various companies that dealt in animal feed.
Scott and Tracy meet while working for a feed and seed store in Concord, N.H.
“After college, I wanted to travel,” Scott said. “I wanted to have fun and see places. But Concord was too busy, too hectic. I started to miss home.”
About the time Tracy and Scott married, Scott’s grandfather wanted to retire, so they bought the family business.
“Now with my two kids, and my dad and grandfather both gone, I feel like it is up to me to keep the family business going,” Scott said. “Hannah and Jake (Scott and Tracy’s children) both said they want to work here when they grow up.”