Marston Feed and Seed Ultimate After 28 Years in Trade | Louisiana Information

By ROBERT STEWART, The Advocate

PRAIRIEVILLE, La. (AP) — After decades of hauling heavy bags of animal feed and seed, Scott Marston is calling it quits.

Marston, the 66-year-old owner of Marston Feed and Seed in Prairieville, plans to retire at the end of the month. His store will close once he walks away.

“I just need to retire — not really health problems but bone and joint issues,” Marston said. “I’ve just beat myself up for 52 years of picking up feed bags.”

Marston Feed and Seed has been open since 1994, carrying a wide variety of food supplies for chickens, horses, birds and dogs, among other products.

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Marston first began working in the feed business after taking a job at Service Feed in 1971. He said he saw an opportunity to open his own store once Service Feed closed down.

Marston said he tried to find a new owner for his store but was unsuccessful. Clearance is well under way.

“We’re not going out because of lagging sales or anything,” he said. “But it’d be hard for somebody to buy this place and pay for it. I did it slowly over the years.”

Marston said he felt lucky because people haven’t chosen to give up raising animals to cut costs during the pandemic.

But he acknowledged that his prices have gradually risen over time. He said the first truckload of feed he bought in 1994 was $4,500. The same amount now costs as much as $18,000, and there’s “no end in sight” for price increases.

“The price of grain is going through the roof. It’s just incredible,” he said. “I also wonder how long that’s going to work. People are going to have a hobby that costs so much.”

Data from the US Department of Agriculture backs up Marston’s assertion. The USDA’s Feed Outlook for April says global grain prices, particularly corn, have gone up since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Ukraine is a major grain exporter.

Michael Deliberto, an assistant professor at the LSU AgCenter, said his institution hasn’t noticed a trend of local feed and seed stores closing. He noted that many feed and seed organizations are cooperative owner institutions, or co-ops, that can spread risk among member companies to weather price volatility.

But Deliberto said supply chain issues are impacting businesses of all sizes.

“The supply chain hiccups, unfortunately that’s been felt through everybody in the system,” he said. “That’s not impacting a smaller store different than a larger store. Literally everybody can’t find what they need.”

Marston said he doesn’t think his retirement is indicative of any kind of trend of local feed stores closing. But he noted that in Ascension Parish, many areas that were once pastures are now turning into subdivisions loaded with houses.

“We’re an old fashioned, full-line feed store,” he said. “I think that is kind of getting to be a thing of the past.”

His post-retirement life will include time for his horses and grandchildren, as well as some travel — “the same stuff everybody says they’re going to do.”

He said the thing he’ll miss most is meeting customers from across the Baton Rouge area.

“(I’ve met) many incredible people that I would not have known from all walks of life, from probably the richest people in Baton Rouge to people that clean stalls for a living,” he said. “That’s the bittersweet part of it, walking away from such good customers. But most of them are happy for me.”

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