Hollywood Feed–The Old, Neighborhood Feed Store Comes to a Neighborhood Near You

In Midtown by Samantha Hegenheiser-Finley2 Comments

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Hollywood Feed’s oldest, still operational location and company headquarters, located at 2648 Broad Avenue, in the Broad Avenue Historic District. Photo by Kathryn Willis

So, here’s what we know. Familiar Broad Avenue mainstay, Hollywood Feed, opened in Memphis sometime in the 1950’s. The first store operated near the intersections of Hollywood and Chelsea. Unfortunately for this eager blogger and for the store’s current, history-embracing owners, photos of the original store seem to have been lost as decades passed and as the store changed hands and locations. We do know that the original Hollywood Feed was primarily a livestock feed supply store – carrying fare for horses, cows, chickens and the like. Also, many years ago, the store was one of the main Purina suppliers to the Memphis Zoo.

By the way, If anyone out there has a photo of the original Hollywood Feed, in all its 1950’s charm and glory, please send it our way.

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The intersection of Hollywood and Chelsea as it appeared in April 1960. If only we could rotate this photo, Google Maps-style, we might very well find Hollywood Feed’s lovely original location. Photo courtesy of The Memphis and Shelby County Public Library and Information Center.

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Hollywood Feed’s East Memphis location, 5502 Poplar, near Yates. Photo courtesy of Hollywood Feed (http://www.hollywoodfeed.com/location/yates/)

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Inside the Broad Avenue store. Photo by Kathryn Willis

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Broad Avenue location. Photo by Kathryn Willis

At Hollywood Feed, as much has changed as what’s remained the same. From it’s beginnings at Hollywood and Chelsea, the store migrated to several locations over the years. However, the first store remained close to both its original location and to its current one on Broad, with stores on both Summer Avenue and Tillman.

Beyond that, for the current owners, much of the rest of the history of Hollywood Feed remains a mystery. We do know that current owner, Shawn McGhee, and his colleagues purchased the Broad Avenue store and two others from the Warmbrod family in 2006. At that time, the stores were operating under the name, “Hollywood Pet Star” – a name they’d carried since the mid-1980’s. Prior to that, the Deluca family owned the store(s) that went by the now familiar  Hollywood Feed moniker.

What hasn’t been lost or changed in the 60-plus years since the store’s original owners sold both pet and livestock feed out of an old gas station is the neighborhood feed store culture and environment. Somehow, despite expanding to a company that consists of approximately 40 stores in 5 states (Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Texas), with 10 to 20 new stores opening every year, it’s maintained its humility – never straying far from its roots in an old gas station on the north end of town.

That “neighborhood feed store feel” appealed to Hollywood Feed president, Shawn McGhee. Upon purchasing the stores, he learned the name they were operating under, “Hollywood Pet Star,” was actually trademarked by Animal Planet. The old store name, “Hollywood Feed” was not trademarked. He liked the idea of changing the name of the stores back to the name of the original store. “The name respects the heritage of the company,” he says.

When McGhee took the reigns, the store also changed focus. They stopped selling live animals (birds, lizards, fish) and focused almost solely on dog and cat nutrition. That’s been the company’s primary focus ever since, as they strive to carry foods that are devoid of artificial ingredients – foods that are the healthiest and most natural options on the market. Shawn McGhee says the company is consistently looking for the most natural foods and supplements out there.

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Hollywood Feed warehouse on Broad Avenue, Photo by Kathryn Willis

Also, if you are familiar with Hollywood Feed, you are likely also familiar with their Mississippi Made dog beds. If saying these beds are amazing compromises our journalistic integrity, so be it. These things are awesome – soft, yet sturdy and quite obviously well-made. Shawn McGhee notes that he knows of a few people who’ve purchased them for their children (yes, human children).

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Photo by Philip Murphy

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Photo by Kathryn Willis

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Photo by Kathryn Willis

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Photo by Kathryn Willis

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Photo by Philip Murphy

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Product display barrels are American-made in Maine. Photo by Kathryn Willis

The beds are made near Tupelo, Mississippi, just 1 hour and 45 minutes from the company’s offices on Broad. They are not, however, the only products Hollywood Feed makes or purchases close to home. The dog bed patches are made in Missouri. Every component of their collars and leashes are U.S. made.

When they initially began the collar project, they couldn’t find U.S.-made components for the collars. “Everyone said they would rather sell us something from overseas,” says company buyer, Anne Ross. “After months of research, we finally found someone who would produce the parts domestically.” Additionally, some of the components of the collars are recycled. By producing and purchasing locally and regionally, McGhee states, “We want our company and all our stores to be good neighbors.”

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Company owner and president, Shawn McGhee, pictured with Director of Operations, Brittany Gilliam. Photo by Philip Murphy

Another way Hollywood Feed maintains its neighborly status is through local animal rescue. The company is not, itself, a rescue organization but works with rescue organizations in every area where they operate. However, its employees commonly have a passion for rescue. The company offices are filled with dogs – some pets of employees, many others, rescue dogs currently up for adoption.

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An “as yet to be named” door greeter (and very recent rescue) at the Broad Avenue store. Photo by Kathryn Willis

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Photo by Kathryn Willis

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“Seymour” stands in Hollywood Feed’s Broad Avenue offices. Photo by Philip Murphy

When discussing company culture, McGhee says, “There are a lot of family elements here. We get involved in rescue together. We share the same passion for pets.”

He looks for the most passionate pet-people out there when seeking employees. “Retail experience is not necessary and can often be a disadvantage”, says McGhee. “We don’t benchmark ourselves against other retailers. We benchmark ourselves against the best in all of business.”

Where retail experience is not required, a love for animals is essential.  “Our people are smart, hard working, and love pets,” says McGhee. He recently took a poll of the company’s approximately 230 employees and determined that, all together, they own over 1,000 pets.

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Photo by Philip Murphy

Now, McGhee and and his colleagues’ focus is on continuing to do what the company strives to do best – providing customers with the healthiest food and supplement options for their pets, continuing to purchase and produce high quality U.S.-made products whenever possible, working with local pet owners, pet professionals, and rescue groups in each community where they operate, adding more animal-loving people to the Hollywood Feed family, and increasing the number of stores opening each year to around 20.

‘And to think, all this started in an old gas station on the north end of town.


Hollywood Feed Company Offices are located at 2648 Broad Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. Store hours: Monday–Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. and Sunday, from 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.

Phone: 901–452–2474

http://www.hollywoodfeed.com

Images in this post by photographers Kathryn Willis and Philip Murphy

Samantha Hegenheiser-Finley

I'm a lifelong Memphian and an alumna of "Nutbush, the Neighborhood." I love Indian food and lifting heavy things. I usually use a lot more words than this. If we ever meet for coffee, you'll see what I mean.

Comments

  1. Building out a new store in Shreveport. When they told me the name of the store I was going to build I googled it and couldn’t believe it started in the neighborhood I grew up in. We lived about 2 blocks away on Chelsea and my mother owned a place named Irene’s Grill just a few doors down on Hollywood next to Hogue & Knotts grocery. I was born in the fifties and lived in that neighborhood till the mid sixties. It was a great place to grow up at the time. We walked to Hollywood school right down the street. Everything in the neighborhood was named Hollywood something seems.

    1. That is so cool Terry!

      If you want to send us some stories about your mom’s restaurant maybe we can include them on a future food-related post or podcast episode! Our email is memphistypehistory@gmail.com or you can leave us voicemails at speakpipe.com/memphistypehistory to share your memories and photos!

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