Boosting America, serving Goliad: Ag Med Supply & Hen House Gifts

Bridget Gayle and Elaine Tate adjust some of the Christmas items on display at Ag Med Supply & Hen House Gifts. The store first opened in 1997, and moved to its current location on Highway 59 in 2005. (Photo by Jeff Osborne)

GOLIAD – From its start in 1997 providing feed for livestock to its growth into a thriving business meeting multiple needs of local ranchers and community members, Ag Med Supply and Hen House Gifts has been a strong presence in the community.

Originally opened by Bob and Bridget Gayle at a different location in Goliad, the business expanded and moved to its current site at 1552 U.S. Highway 59 North in 2005.

“We started out as a feed lot and there was a gentleman who wanted to sell animal health supplies out of our location,” Bridget Gayle said. “We added animal health products and the business really took off from there.”

That idea grew into a larger business, and the selection of gift items offered over the years greatly expanded as well.

Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented in being able to obtain supplies and the extra work required in finding as many American suppliers as possible, the business continues striving to meet customer needs.

Ag Med Supply and Hen House Gifts is a family business. The Gayles’ daughters, Elaine Tate, Michelle Reitz and Leslie Moeller are a part of the business, and the Gayles’ son Robert runs their ranch.

Elaine works to make sure the gift shop is well stocked with a variety of items.

“When the men come into the store they usually go to one side for ag supplies and the women usually go to the other side — but the men go over there when they are looking for gifts,” she said.

Having the spacious building allows the business to offer a big selection and also has allowed the Gayles to own the property their business sits on.

Elaine said 2020 has been a challenging year in which to keep the store well supplied, and although it has taken extra effort, a walk through the store is evidence that she has been successful.

Her emphasis isn’t just on finding things for the store, however. She is always on the lookout to buy American-made products, she said.

“I like being able to offer a lot of different things because sometimes in Goliad you don’t have a lot of options,” she said. “But I also think it’s important for us to offer products made in America. I have suppliers in Wimberly and Dallas, Kentucky and Maine. It’s important to help support the U.S. anyway you can.”

On a recent day, the business held an open house, brought Chic-fil-A to town and held a fundraiser for Project Graduation to benefit Goliad High School seniors at the end of the year.

“We enjoy being able to offer something a little different and being able to help out students in our community,” Bridget said.

Although finding products for the store has been more challenging than it used to be, that hasn’t stopped the store from adding a new line of jewelry and other items, and there is an impressive selection of pocketknives at the front counter.

Bridget said she enjoys the camaraderie of the people who work and shop at the store.

“My favorite part is the family atmosphere,” she said. “It’s all family and friends.”

Elaine said the creativity involved in stocking and decorating the store is something she enjoys.

“It gives me a good creative outlet,” she said. “I enjoy being with everyone who works here and also talking to our customers. I also like to go to market. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that in January.”

Whether in Dallas, Atlanta or elsewhere, the market Elaine visits allows her to get ideas for new products for the store. It also helps her to plan for the next big holiday season.

“It’s one location where we’re able to pick out new items — we start looking for things for Christmas in January,” she said.

Bridget said the selection from suppliers isn’t what it has been in the past, but Elaine said she has still been able to find new things.

“This year we’re trying to bring in new things but it’s been slim pickings,” Bridget said.

“We’ve adjusted and we’ve been able to find things,” Elaine said.

“Times change and you have to shift with what’s happening,” Bridget said.

Regardless of the times, the store has the same goal — providing the best options and service possible for customers, Bridget said.

“We really appreciate our customers,” she said. “We have some loyal customers who have stayed with us. Everybody has been flexible during all the crazy things that have happened this year, thank God.

“We also have great employees who have stayed with us.”

Whatever the challenges, Bridget said plans are to keep serving the community.

“We’re here, we’re open and we plan on being here for a while,” she said. “We’re trying our hardest to do our best. This is a good community with a lot of people doing good things. We’re thankful to be here and to be able to do what we do.”

•josborne@mysoutex.com•

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