The town of Quitaque (pronounced kitty-quay) can be found in northwest Texas, resting quietly on Texas Highway 86. With a population of 411 people, it could be said that everyone knows everyone, and that is especially true for the Valley Farm Store.
Owned and operated by Jim Saul and his wife, Barb since 1992; this store exemplifies hard work and the spirit of family. Most customers are greeted by name, their needs anticipated from many years of service and friendship. The front room has a circle of benches and chairs where morning news and updates are exchanged over cups of coffee.
“Back in 1992, we were in the cow business,” says Jim. “But back then times were hard. Beef prices were down, and costs were up. My brother-in-law offered Barb and me a deal to manage the store with an option to buy, and that’s what we did.”
Jim continues, “Very soon after we got here, we had a few people come in asking to try Hi-Pro Feeds. We’ve been a dealer ever since. Hi-Pro has been very good to work with. There’s hardly ever a problem, but if something comes up our rep, Judson is on it right away.”
Hi-Pro Feeds unique forage sampling and water testing program has also been a benefit to Jim’s store. “Not a lot of people do that, and having mineral programs designed specifically for our area has helped a lot with rancher relationships.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Jim and his family has a long history in the town. “Barbara and I both grew up here, and we have now raised our kids in this town. I know all the people that have cattle in the area. They are our friends and neighbors.”
Valley Farm Store serves the people of Quitaque, along with farms and ranches in a 50 mile radius. Over the years, the business has expanded from the original front office and quonset, adding two more feed sheds, a hay barn, and bulk bins. Jim and Barb also bought a nearby hardware store, expanding their offerings from feed and ranch supplies to all kinds of hardware and do-it-yourself products.
The store has also benefited from the Caprock Canyons State Park and nearby trail way. They get a lot of pass-through customers buying camping equipment, propane, fishing and hunting supplies. Valley Farm Store has even started selling coastal hay, since visitors from other parts of the state are more used to feeding that to their horses than alfalfa.
“We’re closed Saturday afternoons and Sundays, but the park rangers came to us, and said they really needed us to sell firewood on the weekends,” states Jim. “So they brought us over a drop box, and we just set it up next to a sign. It says $5 for a bundle, and we leave it out over the weekend next to the pile of firewood. We can’t tell that we’ve lost any money. There was one time, and it stands out because it’s so rare that my son thought we’d lost two bundles. A couple of days later some people came by to apologize that they only had a credit card when they first came through. They paid the money they owed and bought two more bundles of firewood!”
Over time, both of Jim’s sons and their wives came on board to help run the ever expanding business, and now it is a three family partnership. All of Jim’s 9 grandkids have worked in the store at one time or another.
“The youngest, he’s starting pre-kindergarten, and he got to the point where he would greet customers by saying ‘What do you need?’” Jim laughs. “The real kicker is that he could usually point them in the right direction.”
Valley Farm Store is a great example of a thriving business that represents the true spirit of family and hard work. The Sauls never lose sight of their relationship with the friends and neighbors they serve, and provide a vital service to a rural community. Hi-Pro Feeds is proud to have them as a part of their feed family. If you’re ever in the Quitaque area, stop on by and say hi to them. They would love to have a coffee with you.
Valley Farm Store
210 W. Main St.
Quitaque, TX 79255
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