Tractor Supply Co., a nationwide retail chain that offers everything from chicks to tractor tires, has opened a location in Millsboro.
The Millsboro store, located at 28668 Dupont Highway (Route 113), held its grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 9, and Manager George Downing said the day was all he hoped it would be. The store, he said, crushed its grand-opening sales goal, which he noted he takes as a good sign that it will meet the unique needs of its new Sussex County market.
Downing, who has been working to get the store ready since December, said the opening was “very crowded,” and featured in-store specials and “very people-friendly puppies that pretty much got passed around the store,” from customer to customer, among other fun things.
He said that, although the store is, at its core, very “farm-based,” it also caters to homeowners who are looking for pet supplies, gardening items and outdoor clothing from makers such as Carhartt, Wrangler and house-brand C.E. Schmidt — which is named after Tractor Supply Co. founder Charles E. Schmidt.
The Brentwood, Tenn., based company was founded in 1938, and now has more than 1,700 stores in 49 states. Begun as a mail-order catalog business selling tractor parts, the company now offers “everything but tractors,” according to Downing. He clarified that the store does, however, sell “lawn tractors” — and, in fact, sold quite a few of them during the Millsboro store’s opening weekend, despite the bitterly cold weather.
Keeping to the company’s roots, the store does sell tractor parts. It also sells a wide selection of seed and feed. In a nod to its proximity to the birthplace of the broiler-chicken industry, the Millsboro store will also soon carry chicks, as well as baby ducks, Downing said.
One of the unique features of the store is its “pet wash station.” For $9.99, customers get use of the self-serve washing station, which includes raised tubs, shampoos, combs, towels, dryers and raised stands on which to place pets while they’re being dried and groomed.
The new Millsboro store will also offer PetVet clinics — a mobile clinic that provides preventative care, such as vaccinations and microchips, for dogs and cats. The PetVet Clinic will be offered on alternating Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Downing said. “People should come early,” he warned, because lines are anticipated for PetVet services.
Downing, a native of Lewes who currently lives in Milton, and he said that while he doesn’t personally have farm experience, he feels his broad customer-service experience will serve him well as the manager of the new Tractor Supply Co. store.
He said he chose his 16-member staff by considering the strengths that each person brought to the job, but mostly by “personality.”
“I always check out personality first. That’s always key,” Downing said, adding that customer-service skills can be tailored to any product, and it comes down to “How much do you really care about people?” Downing said he has already started receiving calls from satisfied customers praising his employees, which he posts on a board in the store.
Downing said he hopes the store will be a positive force in the community.
“I’m really glad to be here,” he said. “I’m just excited. … It’s a good journey. We’re excited to see what’s to come and, hopefully, we can do some good for this community by being here.”
The Millsboro Tractor Supply Co. store is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. For more information or to find out when the PetVet Clinic will be at the store, call (302) 934-1111.
By Kerin Magill