LIMA — It was October 1921, and an ad in the Lima News touted the city’s hot new shopping area — High Street. Among the newest merchants on the street was Schuler’s Cash Feed Store at 126 E. High St.
The feed store, according to ads at the time, offered Purina scratch feed, chick feed, chicken chowder, cow chow and pig chow as well as bran middlings, corn, oats, baled hay and straw, salt oyster shells, grit charcoal “in fact everything that goes with a first-class feed store.”
Seventy-five years and handful of owners later, the feed store was still in business, surviving more than a half dozen other feed stores as well as most of the other businesses that existed downtown in 1921. Although the product line had changed — the store in 1996 was known more for bulk food to feed rabbits, squirrels and wild birds than chicken chow and baled straw — the ambience remained much the same.
“Customers of City Cash Feed Store take a step back in time when they enter the downtown Lima business,“ The News wrote July 21, 1996, noting the store still had an antique brass cash register purchased second-hand in 1923. “Also adding to the store’s distinctiveness is the large spool of twine used to wrap packages at the table scale. A price board that came with the store in the 1940s says: ‘Cash or credit, take your choice.”
Mike Kinkle, who had worked in the store from boyhood after his father purchased it in 1945, was in charge in 1996. “We will keep doing the things we do,” Kinkle told the News. “I am always looking for things that other stores do when I’m on vacation. There aren’t many free-standing businesses left.”
Two years later that number dwindled as the feed store closed for good. Kinkle died in 2006. His father, Harold Kinkle, who purchased the store in 1945, had died in 1995.
The feed store was born in 1921 as Schuler’s Feed Store at 126 E. High St. Despite the glories of High Street touted in the October 1921 ad, Schuler’s soon moved, although not very far. On Nov. 4, 1921, the News announced that customers now could meet their needs for “the famous Purina chow feed, hay, straw and all other needs “ at 123 E. Spring St.
By May 1923 the store had undergone its first change in ownership. Clarence D. Clark purchased the business in 1922 and the name changed to Clark’s Cash Feed Store. In a January 1922 ad, Clark’s promised a new 75-cent broom with the “order of $5 or more of any checked bag feed.”
Of particular interest to Clark’s was the chicken feed that came in the checked bags. “Mrs. Harriet Dodson and Miss Alma G. Smith will be in Lima for some time, making a survey of the poultry raised in this vicinity,” a Clark’s ad from May 31, 1923, announced. “These ladies have made a special study of poultry culture and are prepared to help poultry raisers in and around Lima on such problems as culling, feeding of moulting hens and other such poultry problems. The enterprise of Clark’s Cash Feed Store has made it possible for the poultry keepers to get the benefit of the experience of these experts.”
The raising of chickens had taken off at the turn of the century with the arrival of millions of Eastern European Jews who relied on them as a source of cheap protein. For a similar reason, the raising of chickens became popular with new arrivals in the industrial cities of the North and Midwest, and for families during World War I as meat and pork became scarce. Chickens could be found in city backyards as well as farmyards.
A News ad from 1917, possibly overstating the case, called the raising of chickens “fascinating and profitable” and added that anyone “hankering for farm life” could find a nice compromise raising chickens. “It’s surprising how many well-stocked and well-kept henneries there are in city backyards. These enterprises are more than just a fad — they’re successful and profitable,” the ad from Jan. 20, 1917, claimed. “Fresh eggs are scarcer than gold these war days. Then, too, juicy broilers or stewed chicken with dumplings suggest another pleasing side to amateur chicken-raising.”
Auglaize County native Charles Accountius took over as manager of the feed store in 1924, although it retained the Clark name. Accountius was still running the store in February 1937 when he became ill with what turned out to be appendicitis. An operation came too late and he died Feb. 19, 1937.
J. Clyde Swartz, a native of Rockingham County, Virginia, took over in April 1937 and ran the feed store, still under the Clark name, until 1941 when Alvin Heiby, from Darke County, took over. Swartz died in 1965 in Florida from injuries he received in a train accident.
Under Heiby, who died in 1953 immediately after singing at a meeting of the Celina Equity Exchange, the name was changed to City Cash Feed store. Heiby operated the feed store until 1945. It was then briefly run by Gaylord Stemen before passing into the hands of Harold Kinkle.
“After almost 30 years in the same location, the City Cash Feed Store, is planning to move to a new location at 209 E. Spring St.,” the News announced Aug. 1, 1954. “Harold Kinkle, owner of the feed store, has purchased the property which has housed the City Welding & Boiler Repair Shop for the last 15 years. He said the new location will provide him with more space and parking facilities.”
Harold Kinkle managed the store until 1987 when his son, Mike, took over.
Reach Greg Hoersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.