Times have been tough for lots of businesses lately, but agriculture-related businesses have been hit especially hard.
One ag business out in 21Country, however, has been doing quite well, by adapting to survive.
Just surviving these days is a challange for small business...but survival out here, in Amish farm country, borders on the miraculous.
Owner Lynn Stieglitz says, "City's going to meet the country here at Allen County, and that's what this business is all about."
Where the city meets the country is a good description of Milan Center, a small crossroads in eastern Allen County that's seen a lot of change in the past twenty years.
The Milan Township School closed decades ago, and the Methodist Church across the street has changed hands, and denominations, several times.
And though the Milan Center Feed and Grain Store is new, the business itself has been in the neighborhood half a century.
Stieglitz says, "Supplies and the livestock equipment and having a place where people can kind of come find everything they need related to life with animals in the country is becoming what we're known for and what we're doing."
A hundred years ago, this spot was occupied by a small general store owned by Silas Ransom.
In 1922, Ransom sold the store to Adolph Brueggermann, who replaced it with a brick store that eventually became Breuggermann Lumber and Builders Supply.
In 2002, the whole thing burned to the ground and was rebuilt as Milan Center Feed and Grain.
The company still grinds a lot of feed in the mill, but the store itself is the real focus of the business, catering to folks who've moved to country homes with a little acreage and a desire to own horses, raise rabbits or goats or sheep for fun or for the local 4H program.
That's what brought Lori Jennings and daughter Kaitlin here today.
Customer Kaitlin Jennings says, "Goat feed and bedding and some deer stuff. So you raise goats for 4H? Yeah. So you guys country folks or city folks or in between? In between. We live out in the country, but we don't live on a farm. So a place like this is perfect for what you need? Yeah."
Stieglitz says, "We've seen growth here steadily as people discover we're out here and find a farm store in the country that can meet some of the needs they've got."
Milan Center Feed and Grain still caters to farmers.
Young pullits ready for a career in egg laying are always in demand.
But inside, youngsters can buy chicks to raise for their 4H projects.
You'll also find rabbit food, bird feeders and dozens of varieties of bird seed, saddles and tack...everything anyone could need for a quiet life in the country, keeping this family owned 21Country business alive and kicking.
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