Miss Peaches: the farming heart of Junction
Tradition tells us a great deal about where a person is coming from. With this in mind, the Flair team went on a road trip to uncover a little history about farm chicks in farm feed, and found a quaint town staple for farmers and community members in the heart of Main Street, Junction, St Elizabeth, known as Junction Farm Store.
Warmly greeted by supervisor Marlene Wellington, we were shortly after introduced to the owner of the store, 'mother hen' herself, Marcia Saddler.
Affectionately called Miss Peaches, a pleasant Saddler explained that she planted a seed in the garden of entrepreneurship over 25 years ago, to satisfy a particular niche and has not looked back since.
"She had the first-ever farm store. Before her, Junction didn't have one. The idea came because the closest store was a few towns away, which was owned by her uncle. Her mom thought it was a good idea to expand on the concept and start a store closer to home, and so they did," Saddler's daughter, Tracey Quist DaCosta, told Flair.
Born and raised in Junction, St Elizabeth, Saddler admitted to having a farming background, doing a little poultry farming once upon a time. The dynamic mother-daughter duo gave us some enlightening information on poultry farm feed.
"Baby chicks would start with broiler crumble. As the chicken gets older, you move them to broiler pellet ... they are also layer birds who lay eggs ... and they eat layer crumble of layer mash."
Holding the town very dear to her heart, she has great love for the community and its people. Because huge farming areas take up most of the surrounding environs, Junction Farm Store functions as a convenient hub for farmers.
"Quite a bit of poultry farming and rearing of animals take place here, so I'm just happy to help in any way I can," said Saddler.
And while people from neighbouring towns visit because of the wide variety of items offered in the store, DaCosta revealed that they return over and over again for the great customer service.
"We're not just about feed, we're a one-stop shop: feed, fertilisers and chemicals, haberdashery, hardware supplies, we have a garden section, we sell paint, even perfumes. Junction Farm Store has just about everything, except food. But what makes the store so great is that Mom has a good rapport with the customers - knowing them on a name-to-name basis. Everyone loves her," DaCosta declared.
"Customer service is key: people feel that you have to buy from them and they feel they can talk any way to their customers, and that should never be the case. We, as owners and entrepreneurs, have the biggest influences over our customers, and we have the responsibility to set a good example, so let's put it to good use," Saddler affirmed.
As far as hectic schedules go, the start of the week, like everywhere else, is the busiest for Saddler, as she sorts through the organised chaos to get through the rest of the week. Nutramix plays a major role in this process, as it's in great demand among the people.
"What the people want, I just give to them," she added. She employs 12 members of staff who are very welcoming and friendly, traits which contribute to them operating like one big happy family.
"They all practically grew up here - their parents and family continue to shop there so it's easy for them to just be themselves and assist in any way they can,"DaCosta asserted.
When she was chosen among 12 women to be the face of farming for Nutramix's calendar, Saddler was elated and honoured by the recognition. "It was a good feeling." DaCosta chimed in to say, "She is probably the hardest-working person I know. Sometimes she starts her day as early as 3 a.m., and works until late at night. It's hard work, so it's nice as her daughter, to see her being rewarded."
A humble Saddler remarked, "You have to do what you have to do in order to make things work."
When asked about family support, the two admitted that they both were integral in encouraging each other's professional life. DaCosta, who owns two other stores with her husband, confessed that there are persons who grace her doors only after they haven't found what they wanted at the Junction Farm Store. Saddler shared that she receives tons of support from her daughter, and hopes that one day she will take over her business. "This store is a fixture in the community. It's the culture of Junction to have the Junction Farm Store. This is the first place everybody goes, so it's extremely important for this tradition to continue," DaCosta said.
Saddler's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is, "Nothing tried, nothing done. It's takes a lot of hard work and dedication ... I'm humbled by the journey. It's not always easy, I'm not in it for the money, I'm just passionate about supporting my community, and this is my way of giving back. So find your passion and get to it."
After taking us on a tour of the store and introducing us to some of their employees while interacting with customers, I had to ask her why she is called Miss Peaches. She laughed heartily and said, "My father who loved the fruit - peach, gave me that name - it just stayed with me. They claim I was his favourite."