Across the street from a swanky new West San Carlos Street apartment complex sits an old brick building bedecked with the “Sam’s DOWNTOWN FEED & PET SUPPLY” sign in a vintage western font.
The vestige of the valley’s agricultural legacy, shrouded by a shrinking business district that includes a dry cleaner, taquerias, secondhand clothing stores, welders, gas stations, auto repair shops and a used hubcap store, is just a short distance from Adobe Inc.’s new tower and Google’s future corporate campus. It incorporates bricks as old as 100 years, brought in from a brickyard near San Jose’s Del Mar High School, and it previously housed a speakeasy, and later a car dealership.
The juxtaposed buildings on the busy corridor are a jarring reminder of gentrification’s inevitable march, visible across the vacant establishments spanning downtown San Jose and along San Carlos Street.
Since 1986, Sam’s Feed & Pet Supply has provided devoted local patrons with grain, hay and zoological feed. “Feeding anteaters to zebras,” the store has garnered much support over three decades for being one of sole locales to carry a variety of agricultural goods.
And while a dependable source of nutrition for a shrinking population of horses, goat and pigs, urbanites with backyard chickens and suburban families with rabbits, guinea pigs, puppies or gerbils could source feed, hay, crushed oyster shells and accessories.
Owners Sam and Lisa Blackford carved a niche with jars of honey from nearby beekeepers, dog biscuits to hand to children to feed their pets and kitschy, cluttered signs. Reports that Sam recently stepped down due to health issues lit up local neighborhood lists. Blackford’s wife is said to be winding down operations at the store.
Cashier Becky revealed that the store is selling off remaining products, with no plans to replenish.