Wabash Feed & Garden has been a longtime inner-city institution.
Over 26 years, it developed a large and loyal following at its location near Memorial Park. So, two years ago, when a “for sale” sign went up at the site, many customers were caught off guard. In fact, the property broker received so many calls from customers worried that the store was closing, the words "business relocating" had to be added to the sign.
The store simply had to move due to growth in the Washington Corridor driving up tax valuations. Plus, the store’s popularity created its own problem: extremely limited parking.
So, Wabash Feed & Garden, an old-school feed store, has held onto its countrified charm even though it moved about seven miles to 4537 North Shepherd, just a couple of blocks north of Loop 610. The slogan you see as you walk in the door - “A little bit of country in the heart of the city” - is genuine, and it still applies even though they are technically no longer real “inner-loopers.”
Owner Betty Heacker has always done things with a pioneer attitude instilled nearly three decades ago. She says many of her garden supply customers live in The Heights and River Oaks, but increasingly more come in from neighborhoods like Garden Oaks and Shepherd Forest, which are farther north.
Pet owners from all over the region also flock to the store for organic cat and dog food. And, each spring, serious gardeners from places as far away as Freeport, Galveston, Sealy, Brenham and Livingston drive in for Wabash's enormous selection of tomato and pepper plants.
For years, Wabash has been all about organics. Anything they sell for gardening purposes is 100% organic, from fertilizers to fungicides and everything in between. All their edibles are 100% organic, too.
And since they are a genuine feed store, they have a complete selection of livestock feed, with everything needed for chickens, ducklings, pigeons and rabbits, just for starters. And anyone who does urban beekeeping will tell you that Wabash is the only place to go for supplies and advice.
The store also has a pottery yard with clay pots and funky metal sculptures of farm animals, cactus plants and mariachi singers.
When Betty moved from the previous location - now a commercial strip center running from Westcott to Houston Avenue, at the foot of Downtown – her tax bill was cut in half. The new North Shepherd location, formerly a plumbing supply store between Independence Heights and Garden Oaks, boasts 7,000 square feet (compared to 4,000 on Washington Avenue) and 45 parking spaces with the potential for more. It will also have a greenhouse and community room for classes and events.
By the way … the previous owner of the North Shepherd property had a beer license, and Betty has kept it. So, customers are always welcome to take a seat on the store's front porch and enjoy a cold one.