Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2006

Heinens take over De Soto Feed and Garden

September 21, 2006

Fate seemed to be winking at Karen Heinen's purchase of what was De Soto Feed and Grain.

Bob and Karen Heinen signed the papers Friday for the newly renamed De Soto Feed and Garden, taking ownership from her longtime boss Jim Carpenter.

"I've worked with Jim since Sept. 15, 1997," she said. "I just realized, the 15th was the same day Jim came back after he bought it back the last time."

The sale was delayed to that anniversary because of a fire Dec. 30, 2005, that burned the operation's feed mill to the ground just hours before the Heinens' deal to buy the business was to close. But the fire couldn't shut down one of De Soto oldest businesses.

"I think there were a lot of people who assumed we were closed on account of the fire," Heinen said. "We actually have the same operation we had, except for Perry's is making our feed for us."

The one major change is the business no longer purchases grain to mix for feed with the destruction of the feed mill, Heinen said. That also caused some reconsideration of the business, which is reflected in the business' new name, De Soto Feed and Garden.

Walking into the store north of De Soto's Miller Park, customers will find the bags of processed pet and livestock feeds long offered at the business and the large two-wheeled carts used to spread dry fertilizer can be found outside available for use by the staff or rentals. But sharing shelf and wall space in the store are garden supplies from grass seed to rakes to rubber gardening shoes.

That part of the business' inventory is likely to grow.

"We're toying with the idea of putting annuals in this spring," she said. "We'd like to have spring vegetable seeds like we did in the past.

"As time goes on, we'll see what works and what doesn't."

Heinen grew up on a farm in northeast Nebraska and now lives on a 20-acre homestead southwest of De Soto. It is just the kind of small farmstead owned by many of the De Soto Feed and Garden's customers and which provide the backbone for the livestock feed operation.

"We have all kinds of different animals," she said. "I've always loved animals."

De Soto Feed and Garden is a family business with Heinen's husband, Bob, helping on weekends and other days off, their son Tony overseeing the operations outside the store and daughter Jennifer taking over her mother's old job as bookkeeper.

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