Emily Buckley, editor in chief
IT WAS THE 1940s and World War II was amping up. Women across the country were joining the workforce by the millions and here in Logan, Utah, Hannah Antoinette Anderson, known as Nettie, was among the women who were taking the workforce by storm. She was employed by the Cache County Commission (a local co-op) for many years. When the co-op closed its doors, Nettie, a mother and dairyman’s wife, decided to start her own business. She took the knowledge of the seed and feed business she’d gained at the co-op, some old scales, and a bunch of wooden drawers to house her product — seeds.
Just around the block from where the co-op had done business was the vacant Sydney Stevens Implement Company building at 69 West Center Street. Nettie rented 500 square feet of the building and in December 1942 she opened the doors to Logan Seed and Feed. She had her own business and was truly a pioneer for women in business in a still male-dominated world.
“Grandma was tough,” said Nettie’s grandson, Mark Anderson, who now owns Anderson’s Seed and Garden with his wife Ronnette. “She had to be tough living in a different world, doing what she did as a woman at that time.”
Mark recalls a story that captures his grandmother’s personality, saying she once went to visit the local doctor and, as often happens, she sat in the waiting room for an hour. She left the office, went back to her store, and typed up an invoice for the doctor, charging him for her time. She sent the invoice to the doctor who respected her enough to pay the bill and apologize for wasting her time.
Nettie’s business began by serving farmers and homeowners who needed seed for their gardens and farms and feed for their livestock. She was a seed broker, buying one farmer’s excess seed and selling it to another. As the years went by, her product selection and business grew, and so did the space she occupied. She rented more space and eventually purchased the whole property in the 1950s, and also added a division of Garrett Freight Lines commercial shipping.
“We are now one of the biggest property owners in downtown because grandma had the foresight to save her pennies and purchase property every time she had the chance,” Mark said.
Nettie’s husband, Moroni, eventually sold his dairy to work by his wife’s side. Nettie worked at the store until the day she died at age 76, leaving the business in the hands of her two sons, Clyde and Bud.
Clyde supervised the retail business and Bud supervised the freight delivery. They changed the business name to Anderson’s Seed and Feed and eventually to Anderson’s Seed and Garden as they added home décor and home garden goods.
“It was kind of a joke, but also kind of true, that in the 70s and 80s you had to be part of the family to work here,”
Mark said. “As children, my siblings and I would come sack potatoes. It was a great opportunity to help and to learn how to work hard.”
In 1989, Clyde purchased Bud’s share of the business and successfully ran the store until he sold it to his son Mark and his wife Ronnette in 1999. For the last 20 years, Mark and Ronnette have run a business that “Grandma Nettie” would be proud of. She planned for growth, and they have done the same, more than quadrupling their retail space, doubling their warehouse and outdoor nursery space, and growing the parking area. Additionally, they have grown the business to include an extermination and lawn maintenance company that services hundreds of homes and they have earned the right to be recognized as the trusted experts in Cache Valley (and beyond) for gardening.
There are still five Anderson family members aside from Mark and Ronnette who work in the store, and all of Mark and Ronnette’s children have worked there over the years. Mark says his wide demographic, serving both males and females ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-90s, requires him to provide top-notch customer service and value.
“We see our business as part of the service industry rather than retail,” Mark said. “We look at every customer
who comes in as an opportunity to teach. Customers could shop online, but they come into the store for an experience: They come in to get the old-time feel, talk to someone who can help them figure out what they need, and then to learn how to use it successfully.”
This one-on-one experience is what Mark said he and his wife enjoy most about their business. “We wouldn’t have stuck with it this long if we didn’t get the satisfaction of making a difference for people on a daily basis,” Mark said.
“That’s what motivates us to come back to work every day. It is hard to maintain that level of service perfectly, but we strive to build that relationship of trust with every customer, whether their purchase is big or small.”
Even though he thinks about gardening all day, Mark says he still finds growing a personal garden at home rewarding, even therapeutic, and has found ways to keep it from being too time-consuming during his busiest seasons of the year. He says he waters his 5,000-square-foot garden in 30 minutes a week and sets his rows far enough apart that he can till most of the weeds.
“It can be a lot of work,” Mark said. “But it is enjoyable to go out there and water and weed — it’s a great way to clear my mind after a stressful day’s work. Plus, everything tastes so much better when you grow it!