What would later become Farm-Way: Vermont Gear started as a feed mill on Waits River Road. When that business went bust, the local Oakes Brothers saw an opportunity. In early 1983 they reached out to Carol Metayer who, with a background in farming and ranching, was the perfect candidate to manage a farm supplies store. In May of 1983 Farm-Way opened its doors with Carol handling day to day operations.
The partnership proved fruitful and the business expanded. By 1987, the Oakes Brothers were ready for another venture. Paul and Bobbie Gallerani put up $20K and gave another $20k to son in law and daughter Skip and Carol Metayer, who struck a deal with the Oake’s for a sale price of $25K for the business and building, with $100K for the inventory. They hit a slight snag when it was discovered the land below the building was owned by a railroad.
It took three years to sort out the purchase of the land from the railroad. It’s taken the following thirty six years to sort out all the recurring environmental issues caused by the railroad.
As they’ve expanded, through purchases of neighboring properties, more and more environmental damage has been discovered and fixed. During the acquisition of a nearby cement block building two forty foot tanker cars were found buried under the foundation. They were filled with 19000 gallons of tainted #6 oil which was leaching into the surrounding earth. Farm-Way funded the cleanup of the cars and the surrounding ground.
They see themselves as stewards of the land they own, so they’ve worked hard to live that philosophy of preservation, self-sufficiency and cleanup even so far as producing their own energy supply. In 2009 Farm-Way installed a 58 KW Solar system, producing 43% of electrical needs for the business - which was at the time the largest solar system in the state of Vermont. In 2015 another 73.44 KW array was added to produce 100% of electricity for their business.
Their advice for new business owners: parking is the key to success. You need a space for people to park or they’re just not going to stop. Especially in rural areas, not having enough parking can kill a business. They also mentioned that events to drive business are a must. Food tastings, gear samples, holiday parties, anything you can do to drive customers through the door and make them hang out. The longer they’re inside, the more they spend!
Stop by Monday-Saturday to say hi at:
286 Waits River Rd
Bradford, VT 05033