Hyrup Feed, a midvalley institution, to shut its doors
EL JEBEL – Call it time for a change. Call it the times that are changing. Either way, a midvalley institution – Hyrup Feed & Ranch Supply – is closing its doors Saturday.For 25 1/2 years, Steve Hyrup and his wife, Kris, have been keeping the valley’s horses and a lot of other critters fed. Their store, tucked across the street from the park-and-ride lot in El Jebel, is a must-stop for legions of devoted customers, some of whom are literally shedding tears over its closing, according to Kris.So are the Hyrups. Though they are ready to move on, they both get emotional as Saturday’s final day of business approaches.Customers who’ve made a habit of buying everything from birdseed to dog food and chicks (that’s right, baby chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese) at Hyrup Feed must find a new supplier.”I’ve got a couple of clients, yeah, they might go clear to Silt,” Steve said.The Carbondale Co-Op has promised to take care of Hyrup’s customers as best it can, Kris added.Scott Gronceski, of Basalt, isn’t sure what he’s going to do. He stopped by Thursday morning for a bag of dog food – a variety made especially for dachshunds – and bought out Hyrup’s supply when he found out the store was closing.”He’s the only one in the valley who would order it,” Gronceski said. “Beyond that, it’s just a joy coming in here. It’s the best place.”Hyrup, in fact, had planned to call Gronceski and give him a heads-up. He knows his regulars and what they buy, greeting them like old friends and hauling big bags of feed out to their vehicles on his shoulder.A chalkboard above the checkout counter lists feed by the pound – a veritable smorgasbord of ranch-animal fare that would mystify the urbanite. (Pig grower? Calf creep?)”When I first started, it was mostly just horse products, and the dog and cat food have always done well,” Steve said.But the valley is changing, and most notably, fewer residents keep horses as the cost of boarding and caring for the animals increases. With this year’s drought, he noted, hay went from about $5 a bale to $10 or $12 per bale if it can be secured at all.”It’s hard to make it now,” he admitted, the twinkle in his blue eyes and the mustached grin disappearing momentarily.Steve comes from a longtime local family. Hyrup’s, a ski run on Aspen Mountain, is named after his father, John, a contractor who helped build Snowmass Village. Steve grew up working construction with his dad and spent 14 winters with Aspen Skiing Co., first as a lift operator and then as a snowcat driver and member of a snowmaking crew. Summer employment, though, was always questionable. When he found Hy-Way Feed & Ranch Supply up for sale, changing the name on the sign to “Hyrup” was an easy move.”I came in to buy birdseed, saw the ‘for sale’ sign, and it was a done deal,” Steve said.Hy-Way Feed & Ranch Supply in Silt continues to operate, though under different ownership than it did when Steve bought the El Jebel store.Now, Steve declared, it’s time to move on.Residents of Emma, the Hyrups also own a ranch between Delta and Hotchkiss where Steve will spend more time working a different side of the agricultural business, tending to cattle and irrigating the fields.But he’ll miss his customers, and Kris said they’ll miss him. She recalls the thanks her husband received from a man whose mother, a Redstone resident, had died. “He wrote Steve a thank-you note for taking care of his mom and making her smile. I still have that card,” Kris said, wiping tears away. “He’s touched thousands of people.”I think that’s what people will miss – that good old hometown store,” she firstname.lastname@example.org
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