Elk River Pet & Ranch in Steamboat has new owners
September 29, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When a customer walks through the front doors of Elk River Pet and Ranch, they may be looking for a particular brand of food or maybe a new toy for Fido, but Samantha Easley, the new owner of the Steamboat Springs store with her husband, Brian, said what that customer will find is experience and knowledge.
"I love helping people with their animals,” Samantha said. “I want to find what works for their animal whether it's a horse, a dog or a cat. I love providing people with recommendations and having it be successful."
Samantha said she got her start in the business about eight years ago and has spent the past three years working for Colby and Michelle Townsend at Elk River Pet and Ranch.
"Colby and Michelle came to us and expressed an interest in selling the store, " Samantha said. "We jumped on it."
Samantha, and her husband Brian, took over store operations Sept. 4.
"We did not advertise the store for sale. We just started talking to Samantha, and it seemed like the timing was right and that it would be a good fit,” said Colby Townsend, who said he still runs a ranch and sells hay in the Yampa Valley. “Samantha has worked for us for three years and has been our manager for a year, so she obviously knew the way we ran the business and our philosophy of helping customers and the store being a reflection of our community.
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“We feel like she is the right person to carry on our way of doing it,” Townsend added.
Elk River Pet and Ranch is a local choice for livestock feed and equipment, pet foot and supplies and also stocks a selection of home and garden supplies and some clothes. Customers walking through the store’s aisles will also find a selection of fish, aquarium supplies and one turtle.
"We want to keep providing the same great service that Elk River has had for 22 years," Samantha said. "I think the big thing our customers expect is that if you come here and ask us a question, we will know the answer.”
Samantha and Brian moved to Steamboat from Fort Collins three years ago. Samantha has a love of animals — she owns six horses, a dog and a cat — as well as a master's degree in agriculture extension education from Colorado State University. She started Alpenglow Equine, which offers lessons in English and Western riding, and has been teaching for 15 years and riding for more than 20.
Brian, who has worked for ACZ Laboratories in Steamboat the past several years, holds agricultural degrees from CSU and is no stranger to the store. He has often helped on big sale days or when things got busy.
"I have a background in agriculture business, and soil and crop sciences," Brain said. "I grew up in the country back home in Missouri, and we have always had animals from chickens and pigs to dogs and cats. When this opportunity came available, I was very excited to jump in here with Samantha."
The Townsends bought the feed store in 1996, and over time, made some major changes. They moved the business into a new location in 2000, were able to survive a recession and transitioned from a traditional feed store to a pet store that appealed to a wider range of customers.
“We were able to keep that store going through a really tough time in our economy … I take pride in that,” Colby said. “We are a reflection of the community. When the horse business kind of diminished, our pet business grew exponentially.”
Today, the store continues to offer a wide range of products and supplies for horses, livestock and household pets.
In addition to Samantha and Brian, the store employs nine other people. The store is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.