Grow smart together
At the intersection of Orange Grove Road and Churton Street, in Hillsborough, something hopeful is growing. It is here that Chris and Julie Woerdeman, a husband-and-wife team, and business entrepreneurs, are nurturing their business, Gro-Smart, into something sustainable and people-friendly.
“We really try to know our customers on a first-name basis,” Chris Woerdeman said. They sell horse tack, feed supplies, care needs and animal feed from chickens to horses to cows to dog food to plants and gardening. “We are just a small feed store with plants and other items small farmers and homeowners need,’ Chris said.
Julie is from Hillsborough and Chris moved here from Connecticut when he was 6 months of age. “We met while she was in college at UNC-Greensboro and we have been together ever since,” Chris said. The two purchased the feed store in 2012 and have slowly built the store into a serve-all and customer-specific operation.
“One of the things we offer is that we can special order and attend to the needs of our customer, specifically,” Chris said. The husband-and-wife team works with their customers to identify products they want and need and they can special order as the need arises.
“Julie is the inventory and book-person and I take care of the plants and employees and deliveries,” Chris said. The two have planted seeds in the garden and feed-store supply business and they have the interest of the community and in being local at heart.
“We believe that we fit in well with the community and being local. It is part of our mission as business owners to know our customer and to provide them with excellent customer service so that we can assist them with their needs. We load feed bags or heavy items for our customers and help them make selections whether it be plants and gardening assistance or choosing the best feed or care need for livestock,” Chris said.
Of the challenges of working together and living together, Chris said, “Basically, it is never an issue. We leave work at work and keep our home life separate from what happens here.”
Going forward, Chris hopes that Gro-Smart will continue to thrive and prosper and that their customer service will be a selling point for return customers. “We are not the largest feed store and we are different from the big-box feed store variety. However, if a customer is looking to support local and buy local, then we offer something here that is personal and people-driven,” Chris said.
At Gro-Smart, the idea is that they supply feed to help growth and plants that sustain and produce. All of this aligns with the business idea that growing a business is parallel with growing customer support. Gro-Smart is on Facebook and normal business hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 – 6PM and Saturday’s 8:30-3:00. For more information, call 919-245-1650.
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