Essex County Cooperative, Topsfield MA
Concerned about the cost of feeding their animals back in 1917, a group of farmers banned together to form the Essex County Farmers’ Cooperative in Topsfield, Mass. They sold feed from a barn that was built during the Civil War, and made a name for themselves over the years by providing quality feed and other farm supplies to the rural community outside of Boston.
Today Essex County Co-Op has 28 employees, a nine-member board of directors and more than 6,000 shareholders. Open to the public, the cooperative is still located in its original spot on Route 1, with more buildings now connected to the historic barn in the back – including a new “Pet Barn” expansion just for pet food and supplies.
“It’s a really special place,” says General Manager Bruce Quill, who came to Essex County four years ago after managing the Blue Seal store in Rochester, NH for nearly 20 years. “There’s a lot of history here.”
Equine and poultry make up most of Essex County’s feed sales, and Blue Seal has been on the shelves and in the barn for the past 50 years. They also sell Entrust and Native pet food, as well as the ever-popular World’s Best Cat Litter, which is produced by Kent Nutrition Group.
Quill says because Blue Seal was founded in nearby Lawrence, Mass., the company is well-known and respected by customers in his region.
“It was the only feed company around here for many, many years,” he says. “There is quite a lot of loyalty to the Blue Seal brand.”