By Chris Rotolo |
When Carolyn Broullon and Donica Basinger bought the building on the corner of Bay Avenue and Miller Street in 2016, the six-foot high watermark that stained the walls was a stark reminder of their storm-ravaged community and the devastation that consumed it following Super Storm Sandy.
Since opening in December, the business partners have transformed it into the site of a flourishing pet food and supply shop called Feed & Seed. They hope it can be a symbol of communal healing and revitalization in the heart of Highlands.
“I think, as a community, we’re on the cusp of eclipsing what we were before Sandy,” said Broullon, who also serves as a member of the Highlands Borough Council. “There’s a tremendous amount of new residents and new business owners coming to the area, taking damaged properties and renovating them, and making a positive impact on the town. It’s all part of the healing process.”
For the longtime Highlands residents and pet lovers, the Feed & Seed venture was born of necessity.
The nearest pet food and supply stores are 20 minutes away, in Middletown and Holmdel.
“I can’t tell you how many people have come in and have just thanked us,” Basinger said. “It’s an inconvenience to drive all that way. And they don’t want to order online. They want to come in, look around and see new products. They want a convenient and personal experience.”
The store also caters to cats, dogs, birds and other conventional pets like fish, hamsters and turtles.
Owners of bearded dragons, geckos, snakes, ferrets and even chickens can find seed, feed and other supplies to properly care for their more exotic members of the family.
“We pride ourselves on having something for everyone and all their different needs,” Broullon said. “Whether you have dogs, cats, chickens, or pot-bellied pigs, our goal is to have something available for you.”
The store welcomes more than just customers. Located across from a small activity corner set up for local kids and toddlers is a community water bowl and treat chest that regularly need refills due to the steady stream of furry foot traffic entering the facility.
Curious visitors might also notice the antique Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) sign affixed to the facility’s back wall.
Now more commonly known as A&P, one of the national retailer’s first stores on the eastern seaboard was constructed on the corner of Bay Avenue and Miller Street in July of 1935, the same structure where Broullon and Basinger, members of the Highlands Historical Society, have launched Feed & Seed.
As well as displaying the original sign, an old banana basket original to the A&P has been retained for samples.
Also in the spirit of that original A&P, Feed & Seed is home to a small general store with various carpentry and maintenance supplies, filling a void left by Sandy, which washed away Highlands’ former community hardware store.
“Our goal was to be part of the redevelopment of our community, but also stay true to the history of this site,” Broullon said. “We wanted old to meet new. We wanted to do something that filled a need, but embraced the past. We’re looking to the future with Feed & Seed, but preserving the character of a significant historical site.”
Feed & Seed is located at 154 Bay Avenue. The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but open Wednesday through Friday from 1 to 7 p.m.,as well as 11 a.m to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The website is feedandseednj.com.
This article was first published in the Feb. 22-March 1, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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