By March Twisdale
Eighteen years ago, my family moved to the island. Our beloved family dog, Tiny, spent one night on our amazingly dark and quiet property. The next day, I walked to town, carrying my sweet, seven-pound companion in a soft, cushioned bag, met the staff of Fair Isle Vet, and called my dad on the phone, sobbing after they put her down. He reminded me, as I obliterated an entire box of tissues, that I’d known Tiny for longer than I’d known my husband or my children; thoroughly validating the deep, sincere love many of us have for our animal family members.
Life on Vashon Island would be so much harder if we were forced to go off-island for medical care, feed, treats, bedding, clothing, and other products we need for our animal family members. And so, today, I’d like to highlight a “not in town” business that has been there for so many of us, for close to 30 years: VI Horse Supply.
As Shelley and Gary tell the story, “26 years ago, McFeed’s was shutting their doors, and with so many horses and other livestock inhabiting our Emerald Isle, it became apparent someone would have to step in to fill the void.”
There are many types of businesses. Some cater to our wants and desires, while others provide for our needs and requirements. Both have value, and I remain consistently grateful for Islanders willing to trade their time and energy for my customer dollars! Whatever savings are gained from off-Island pricing, it’s hard to actually come out ahead when one considers the time spent, fuel burned, and ferry costs accrued.
As my family followed in the footsteps of Herb M. Beck, developing our own “Hobby Farm” of sorts, my appreciation for Island businesses grew. For our dogs, cats, chinchillas, pet rats, and fish, we’re happy to count ourselves as loyal customers of Pandora’s Box. For our hundreds of chickens (over the years), Plum Forest Farm offers excellent customer service and a truly high-quality variety of feeds. And, for our equines, VI Horse Supply has had our back since day one.
This is no accident. When McFeed’s moved to close, Gary and Shelley stepped in to fill the gap, with the full support of the Vashon-Maury Island Horse Association. Combining his decades of experience in the racing industry with her incredible research and product development savvy, VI Horse Supply is a perfect blend of their business knowledge, hard work ethic, friendly and down-to-earth attitude, and a sincere commitment to all of our larger farm animals, from horses to sheep, goats to pigs, turkeys to geese, and more.
I’m not sure where to begin when it comes to singing their praises. Gary is a colorful character, always ready to share his wisdom, on time with deliveries, a great mentor for young people getting their start as “wage slaves” (see John and Seán’s February and March essays), and he’s more than happy to chat if you catch him in between customers. Shelley is beyond smart, committed to the health of animals and people, willing to share all she’s learned, and she’s got a heart of gold. But, that’s not what’s kept them in business these past decades.
There’s more to the story, and we’ll bring it to you in our April Issue. For now, please know that VI Horse Supply’s current hours are Thursday through Saturday, and they’ve got a tremendous sale going on this spring. For best selection, swing by sooner than later, and prepare to be impressed by “It’s All Got to Go” prices!