Couple open Savvy Hen on Pearl Street

BOULDER – Couple Melissa and Mark Winchester are banking on the rise in urban farming, and specifically backyard chicken raising, as they get set this week for the grand opening of The Savvy Hen Urban Farm and Feed LLC at 1908 Pearl St.

The 1,300-square-foot store in downtown Boulder had a soft opening on July 2, with the grand opening slated for Saturday, July 13.

The Savvy Hen will include chicken feed products, including a self-serve chicken feed buffet bar, as well as a builder contracted to construct coops.

But the Winchesters aren’t just putting all of their eggs in the chicken basket. The store also will carry gardening and beekeeping products, equipment for canning and fermenting, natural body-care products and farm-style gift items.

The location also includes a room where the store will conduct classes on chicken and beekeeping, gardening topics and make-your-own skin care.

“There wasn’t a great stock of resources readily available (locally), especially around the chicken keeping but also urban farming as a whole with everything kind of interconnected,” Melissa Winchester said.

Melissa Winchester said she would man the store to start out with one other part-time employee, though she said she hopes to add a couple of more soon.

The Winchesters, both 31, started the store with their own funds, though declined to say how much.

The couple had been living the urban farming lifestyle in their Boulder home when they decided they could offer a product mix. Melissa said they were the beginners not long ago who might have felt intimidated walking into a large farm supply retailer and not knowing where to start with an operation like raising backyard chickens. That’s why they went with their local boutiquelike model that included the how-to classes.

Melissa, who was born in Boulder but spent most of her youth in Virginia before returning to town to finish her sociology degree at the University of Colorado-Boulder, has a background in project management and interior design. Mark works in Denver for Quikrete, a packaged-concrete manufacturer.

The Savvy Hen has been about 15 months in the making. Market research on chicken raising is difficult given that there’s no permit process with the city. But Melissa said she and her husband spent ample time walking alleyways in town trying to get a feel for how many people were actually doing it. They also consulted with a similar store in Portland, Oregon to get ideas for how to start. And gardening, perhaps unlike urban chicken raising, is plenty mainstream and will fuel much of their business as well.

“We felt like Boulder was the type of place that would be receptive to something like this,” Melissa said.

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