From the early 1970’s on, the Talmage family ran a small retail outlet for their wholesale products. Back then, they sold greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers out of a hanger on the property. As the products grown in the greenhouses changed and expanded, they opened an “outlet” farm stand on the north side of Sound Avenue called Friar’s Head Farm. The outlet sold perennials, annuals, hanging baskets, mums and patio geraniums. Jane Talmage ran the farm stand for many years and after she decided to retire in 1999, the decision was made to get out of the retail business.
Around that time Agway, Inc. was having business difficulties and decided to sell off its corporate retail stores, one of which was the Riverhead Agway store. The Talmage family became aware of its availability and looked at it as an opportunity to open up a new outlet for the plants that they were raising wholesale and as means to diversify.
The store’s Osborne Avenue location was no stranger to the Talmage Family. The building that the store operated out of (and still does to this day) was originally built as a potato storage and grading facility by LIPCO (Long Island Produce Company). LIPCO was owned by the Talmage and Young families, who had recognized the need for uniform packing and grading facilities on Long Island had built or rented facilities on both the north and south forks. Local farmers could sell their products to LIPCO for packaging and retail sales.
In the 1964 LIPCO sold the business to Agway, Inc. which ran the potato operations at this location until 1989. That year, Agway moved their retail operations from Polish Town on Pulaski Street to the converted grading and packing facility on Osborn Avenue.
With the Talmage purchase of the retail store, the ownership of the location had come full circle. They have since tripled the size of the outside nursery area to handle the need for more plant display space, as well as expanded the inside retail space. In addition, this past spring solar panels were installed which have saved over 22,000 kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere to date.
Today, Talmage Farm Agway has grown into a local resource for lawn and garden supplies (organics and regular), pet supplies and food, the largest assortment of bird feeders, houses and bird seed in the area and high quality plant material. Talmage Farm Agway stocks thousands of items, from fruit trees and berry bushes in the nursery to power equipment to everything you could need to raise backyard chickens. Agway also offers delivery and propane refills.
The store is managed and run with help of Talmage family members as well as with many of the employees who were with the Agway store prior to its sale. The store is open every day with the exception of New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“We realize that consumers have many choices to buy products, both locally and on the internet. Over the last decade or so, we have seen incredible growth in the amount of retail space being added within just a couple of miles from our store,” said general manager Bill VanSchaick. “We strive to provide a friendly, caring and knowledgeable shopping experience.”
In the future
The recent hugely popular and growing interest in homesteading and a movement to become more self-sufficient is leading the way for growth in areas like raising poultry, beekeeping and even home brewing. When you ask a question at Talmage Farm Agway, you can expect an answer from someone who has kept bees, made their own beer, has grown their own vegetables and preserved them or so many other valuable real-life experiences that their staff and managers are proud to have.
“Our diversity of experience with the products that we sell is one of the greatest assets that we offer our customers over our competition,” said VanSchaick.
“Moving forward, we plan embrace the spirit of homesteading and will look to add and grow the product categories that help to support this lifestyle,” said VanSchaick. “Whether you want to get a ‘buzz’ from our beekeeping department or a different kind of ‘buzz’ from our home-brewing department, we’re here to help.”
Talmage Farm Agway
1122 Osborn Ave., Riverhead, NY 11901
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