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Keys to Success

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Keys to Success: McCoy Feed & Supply in Midland

Trent McCoy started his Facebook post with “URGENT!!!!”

And for the entrepreneur, owner of McCoy Feed & Supply in Midland, it was.

“Had a visitor today (who) is going to kill a nest of honeybees (under an eave) at his house,” his recent post continued. “Was going to buy a bee suit ... next stop was a gallon of gasoline. ... [W]as able to delay his action, provided I can find someone to rescue this hive.”

Within hours, McCoy had about a dozen replies on Facebook, nearly 20 calls and emails, and a volunteer to remove the hive.

A few days later, McCoy was posting pictures of the four-hour grand rescue that saved nearly 7 pounds of bees.

That sort of above-and-beyond community outreach is par for the course at McCoy’s – as most customers call it – which celebrates its 60th anniversary next year.

The 5,000-square-foot store with the red-and-white-striped awning, located along Albemarle Road about 25 miles east of Charlotte, sells everything from dog supplies to horse medication. McCoy also organizes and plays host to a number of events at the shop, including pet adoptions, pooch pageants and holiday celebrations.

It’s a well-known small business, McCoy says, “kind of like the barbershop.”

Here’s how it has become such a staple in the Cabarrus County community:

Moving to the action: McCoy’s father, Robert, started the family business in 1954 and financed it by also working at a hosiery mill in Concord. McCoy’s started as a feed mill for hogs and cows, later manufacturing horse feed and fertilizer as well. At its height, the business produced 18 types of branded McCoy products.

Trent, now 50, started working at the feed mill in the early 1980s, sweeping floors. He took over the business when his father retired in 1993.

About seven years ago, McCoy was having difficulty recruiting enough people to work at the mill.

That, combined with the looming expense of new machinery, prompted McCoy to switch gears, rent a building toward the center of town and venture into retail.

“We needed more visibility,” McCoy said.

For a cause and community: McCoy has four employees, one of whom – 53-year-old Tim Barbee – has worked with McCoy since 1980. That means Barbee has seen all of the mill-turned-shop’s “save the (insert animal or insect here)” causes, McCoy says, laughing.

And the shop has become a regular hangout for dog-lovers.

For the last seven years, McCoy’s has hosted a monthly dog adoption through Tails of Hope Rescue. McCoy has a Halloween costume contest, where dogs “walk the runway” (a red stripe running down the center aisle) and vie for awards such as “Fluffiest,” “Best Kisser” and “Best Tail-Wagger.”

McCoy has even asked a caricature artist to come do portraits of customers’ dogs. And last Christmas more than 100 people brought their dogs to get pictures with Santa at McCoy’s. Donations to the event benefited Tails of Hope.

No single event resulted in a lot of sales, McCoy says. But they do help create a community, he says, which is critical when your small business is competing with big-box stores.

Tell a story: Though his first foray into social media was in 2010 with a “Facebook for Dummies” book, McCoy now understands the role it can play in entrepreneurship.

A post about a new brand or product will get a few eyeballs, he says.

But a post about a beloved employee’s leaving? More than 800 hits. His plea about the bee hive? More than 1,300.

“If you tell a story with emotion or ... humor, it goes through the roof,” McCoy said.

Which is why the McCoy’s Facebook page isn’t short on puns, pop culture references or friendly banter.

In honor of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s new heir, McCoy posted on Facebook that he was offering a 10 percent discount on Royal Canine products. “Do you get an extra 10 percent discount if someone is actually from England, too?” a customer replied.

“Good question,” McCoy wrote back. “Bring us an English muffin, and we’ll discuss over a cup of hot tea.”

McMillan: 704-358-6045
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