MAHOPAC, N.Y. - After slightly more than one year since a fire devastated long-time Mahopac business the Feed Barn, the store is once again open for business.
In October 2014, a fire of unknown cause started in the tower above the business located in the Route 6 shopping plaza that once was home to A&P and now houses the ACME supermarket.
“The fire struck early in the morning and we still don’t know the official cause,” said Mary Sambucini, whose parents, Anna and James, opened the store in Somers in 1976. “My mom is still working in the business and she got the phone call. We all met that morning in front of the store. We were in shock. The other stores adjacent to us, like Fraser’s Hardware, got damaged as well.”
Sambucini said they were fortunate that fire damage to the store was kept to a minimum, but there was plenty of water damage. And the two cats that called the store home survived without injury.
Sambucini said everyone knew right away they would rebuild.
“This is a family-based business; still in the family all these years later,” she said, noting that her brother and sister are involved as well. “I have been immersed in this my whole life; I have had other careers but came back to this.”
Sambucini called the rebuilding a “group effort.”
“We have a wonderful core group of employees who are like our family and have been with us since we have been open,” she said. “There has been such a wonderful outpouring of support from everyone. We are so honored. We were thankful no one was hurt and the cats were fine and the fire department did a wonderful job.”
Sambucini said that the Feed Barn is a pet supply store and much more and has built up a loyal customer base over the years. After starting in Somers nearly 40 years ago, they moved to Mahopac in 1990 after outgrowing its old space. The store carries farm feed and bird feed and bird feeders, pine shavings for horses, and food and supplies for household pets such as dogs, cats and even Guinea pigs.
“It is soup to nuts for the pets in your life,” Sambucini said. “And we felt in our hearts we would rebuild. We were all coming together as a community. We knew it wouldn’t stop us. We got so much support from our reps and the town and customers. How could you not stay positive and move forward?”
Sambucini said she had hoped to re-open more quickly, but the process took longer than she thought.
“We were kind of naïve and thought that we could sweep it out and open for business real soon,” she said. “But eventually everything seemed to just fall into place. It came together pretty smoothly. We had a wonderful crew and we put on our hard hats and got it done. Our landlord did the floor, the ceiling and the painting; we just had to bring in our shelving and product. We were so eager to be back here. The store is beautiful and the customers have been so welcoming.”
Feed Barn has two other locations: one in Brewster and one in New Milford, Conn. Sambucini said customers from all over the area remained loyal by visiting the other stores while the renovations at the Mahopac store were underway.
Feed Barn officially reopened in November, but held a grand opening ceremony last weekend and marked its return with a big celebration.
Sambucini had particular praise for Purina, one of its long-time vendors, for its ongoing support and assistance.
“We are proud of the fact that we have always been a distributor of Purina products since we started the store and they have always been a big supporter,” she said. “After the fire, they supported us and they help spread the word that we had another store in Brewster. They’ve been great.”