Kirby's in Medford closing its doors after 140 years

Wednesday, December 30, 2015
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They've been in business since Ulysses S. Grant was president.

MEDFORD, N.J. (WPVI) -- They've been in business since Ulysses S. Grant was president.

But come New Year's Eve, Kirby's - a mainstay of South Jersey's farming community for 140 years - will close its doors.

Longtime customers came into the store on Main Street in Medford to say goodbye to the Kirby family.

"It's not easy and all these people coming in wishing us well, they're like family. I'm just devastated," owner Chuck Kirby said.

"Oh, we love this place. It's part of us. It just breaks our heart to let it go," owner Jan Kirby said.

For six generations the Kirby's have been selling feed for horses, goats, cows and all kinds of animals along with hunting, fishing and farm supplies.

There was a day when people would ride their horses to the store to pick up feed that was made on the premises and topped with molasses for a treat.

"We used to have a lot of farm business. Saturday mornings we'd have a line out the door," owner Chaz Kirby said.

The business was started back in 1875 by Charles Kirby and his brother William at the now historic Gristmill on Church Road.

The family still has some handwritten store receipts from the 1800s.

"Whether it be your dog, cat, your horse, your chickens, you went to Kirby's and they had the answer," Sharon Lucas of Southampton, New Jersey said.

But with fewer farms in the area, competition from big box stores, and a mild winter that has farmers buying less feed, the Kirbys find themselves deep in debt.

"We just got to the point where we said we can't go any deeper," Chuck said.

Locals are sad that mom and pop stores like Kirby's are disappearing.

"There's a real charm. You get the little House on the Prairie feeling when you walk up here," Carolyn Dongarra of Lumbeton, New Jersey said.

The Kirbys are selling off everything and facing an uncertain future.

"I just have to believe that things will turn out okay," Chuck said.