After over a half century of service to countless animal owners in eastern Madera county, Oakhurst Feed and Pet Supply is closing its doors for good on Saturday, Sept. 15.
For owner Colette Goga, the store’s third and current owner, it was just a matter of “letting go,” knowing it was best for both herself and her family.
Goga, 57, said at her age and her husband’s, 73, it’s time to focus on something “a little less strenuous, a little less taxing, a little less time-occupying.”
“I would hate to wake up one day and find my husband gone and me too old to move, and still be the owner of a feed store,” she said jokingly.
While she is excited for the rest and relaxation that await her, the transition has not been easy. Animals are Goga’s passion and that, along with the people she has met during her time as owner, have made the closing emotional.
While struggling to hold back tears, she said, “It’s been great. It’s been wonderful. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s sad to let it go, but I’m happy to.”
She equated the bittersweet nature of the closing to “juggling two balls.” Goga has owned the store since 2007, when she purchased it from Dave and Agnta Quist-Palos.
Customers of Oakhurst Feed and Pet Supply have had to juggle emotions of their own. The store’s long-term presence had made it a mainstay of the community.
Even newer residents found it easy to grow attached.
Jennie Edwards, 57, moved to Oakhurst with her husband over a month ago and in a quest to find a pet sitter stumbled across Goga’s store. Edwards recalled being greeted in the parking lot by one of the employees, a promising sign in her eyes.
“I walked in and I just knew I was going to be a customer here and only here,” Edwards said. While heartbroken by the news of the store’s closure, Edwards said she understands and agrees with Goga’s desire for a lighter schedule.
Goga said the reactions among locals that know her personally have been similar to Edward’s. Still, she also understands how some may be taking it more personal than others.
“I could see how when you come to a place and shop there for 10, 20, 30 years and it’s now gone, there would be a sense of loss there,” the owner said.
Goga said she would have loved to have been able to sell the business, but the opportunity never presented itself. For customers like Edwards who are in need of a new local pet supply store, Goga said she will be directing the store’s customers to Mountain Feed and Nursery in Coarsegold.
She said she is in the process of figuring out of a way to hand off her customer database to Mountain Feed and Nursing in order to facilitate that transition for customers.
Oakhurst Feed and Pet Supply’s employees will be left without jobs, but Goga said she is doing all she can to help them find employment somewhere else.
Goga plans to continue to work within her passion by tending to her other two businesses: pet-friendly wine and beer bar Yosemite Wine Tails, and pet sitting service All Kritter Sitters.
Both are much less time consuming than the pet supply store, with the bar only being open Friday-Sunday and the pet sitting being on an on call basis.
“It’s not everyday I do both. I’ll still have that time at home, and that time with my husband that I’m so desiring of,” she said.
The store will only be accepting cash and checks until its closing on Sept. 15.