Whether it’s feed for livestock, hardware, garden equipment, electrical and plumbing supplies or fencing, Jauer Farm Supply in Karnes City has worked to meet local customers’ needs for 49 years.
For 43 of those years, George Perez, the current owner, has been a fixture of the business, taking over for the original owner, Bill Jauer.
“I got out of high school (in Karnes City), and then I started working here on July 24, 1978,” Perez said.
The store previously sold more garden plants “but I don’t have the manpower to do that,” he said. “I also used to sell baby chicks once per year, but the demand for that got less and less.”
Instead, the focus is more on the staples that people need for their farm or ranch or to make repairs at their home. That business helps the store continue to thrive during an era when many similar stores have come and gone.
“With places like Home Depot and Lowe’s, stores like ours are a lot more rare than they used to be,” Perez said. “In fact, there are several times when people thought we’d gone out of business because I took vacation time. We are definitely still here and want to offer our customers the best service and products that we can.
“It’s the customers that make this all worthwhile. We have some great people in this community, and they are definitely loyal. We really appreciate them.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic never resulted in the store’s closure, it did present some new challenges, Perez said.
“During the worst of the COVID pandemic we were an essential business so we never closed, but COVID did make it harder for us to get supplies,” he said. “There are some items I have to order over and over again. It’s hard to get them in, and then it’s hard to keep them in stock.
“It’s also hard finding good employees that are willing to work. COVID had an effect on that, too. We’re doing all right, but it could be a lot better.”
Although feed sales are down because of the substantial rain the area received through the summer, Perez said he gladly accepts that in exchange for a healthy countryside.
“We still do a good business with livestock feed; it’s just not quite as good as it had been,” he said.
An emphasis on stocking American-made products is a priority for Perez whenever possible, he said.
“I buy most of my hardware out of Llano (in Central Texas),” he said. “It’s important for me to offer quality products. If I can’t offer the best quality, then I stay away from those items. I want to sell things that will last.
“I try to sell American products as much as I can. I believe we need to keep American-made products in the store as much as possible. It’s sometimes hard to do, because so many things are made in China these days. But whenever we’re able to, we provide American products.”
Perez said small businesses like his are sometimes a dying breed but that he is proud of the relationship he has built with community members over the years.
“It all comes back to the customers,” he said. “You treat them right, and they’ll treat you right. They know what they can count on when they come here, and we appreciate them. They become friends more than customers, and we couldn’t stay in business without them.”