Iron Gate Feed in Palestine celebrated its 33rd year in business on Feb. 17. The store stays busy with loyal customers and owners and managers who are extremely knowledgeable about the products they sell.
The company is owned by Joe Bryant, and is managed by his stepson John Piersol, who has a degree in animal science.
“I was interested in animal nutrition from being in the ranching business,” Bryant said. “I’ve raised cattle and horses my entire life. I was doing gardening and growing cattle foods, and I got more into nutrition.”
Bryant moved to Palestine 40 years ago and has a background running Quarter horses and raising Marchigiana and Angus cattle. He also raised hay for the market.
Bryant still owns cattle and a pine plantation in Tucker, called Iron Gate Ranch.
“We have about 20 acres of pine trees that we raise for about 15 years, then it’s cut and we sell it,” Bryant said. “In the mornings I work at the ranch and then come to the store around noon.”
The Iron Gate Feed building was originally built to be a feed store in 1949.
“Jack Davis owned this place and wanted to sell it,” Bryant explained. “During lunch one day at 11 a.m. Jack asked if he knew anyone who wanted a feed store, and by 4:30 that day, I owned it.”
When he first bought the store, Joe and John were schooled daily by Ira Huddleston.
“He gave us very valuable information in gardening and advice on running the store,” Bryant said. “Ira worked here until 1984.”
Iron Gate Feed sells two kinds of pet food lines: Nutro and Strongpoint; Martindale, Red River, Bluebonnet and Wendlands feeds; as well as various companies of insecticides, fertilizers and seeds for garden pastures and wildlife. Bryant also carries in season garden vegetables. Organic products are available in the store and Bryant teaches organic gardening for Master Gardeners.
The clientele at Iron Gate Feed ranges from “people in town living in an apartment with a dog, to a rancher buying a ton of cubes,” Bryant said. “We sell to a one-horse owner and to a rancher with 500 head of cattle.”
Bryant’s favorite part of owning Iron Gate Feed is dealing with the people.
“We welcome questions and readily give answers,” he said.
The most difficult part about owning his own business is trying to keep the place clean and organized, Bryant said.
“I also just hate it when I have to tell somebody that we’re out of something,” he said. “I try to keep the store stocked with everything.”
His clients keep him in business. And he keeps them coming back by being able to give a lot of helpful advice.
The store also offers fair pricing, Bryant said.
“Even though it’s a small store, we are still able to compete with larger stores,” he said.
Another unique thing about Iron Gate Feed is a work program for students.
“We have two students who work with us at one period,” Bryant explained. “One will work a half day in the morning and the other student will work the other half of the day. They are graded and critiqued and must meet the same criteria in here as they would at school, appearance wise.”
Iron Gate Feed serves the local community by offering products for animals and lawns, providing advice to anyone who has questions and helps students in a work-study program.
The store hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. It is located at 936 W. Oak St. in Palestine.
For more information, contact Joe Bryant or John Piersol at 903-729-5232.
Mindy Poehl may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 903-729-0281, ext. 256.