Founded by Bo Griffis in 1970, Griff's Farm & Home Center has been a staple in its community for over 40 years. Beginning with meeting the need for a local farm store, Griff's Farm & Home Center has faithfully served as a family-owned and operated store to provide for the area around them. They have a wide range of farm supplies available including fencing, livestock feed, vet supplies and hay products. They also have a great selection of pet supplies for your everyday needs with food from top brands like Science Diet and Blue Buffalo. Stop in for a visit for your gardening needs too; they carry a variety of vegetable and lawn seeds, live plants, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Check in to see when their Fish Days, book specials, and vendor specials are going on to get a great deal on in-store items! Their staff is highly knowledgeable and can help you find what you are looking for.
PHOTOS BY KATIE MCLEAN/INDEPENDENT MAIL Brothers Randy (left) and Wayne Griffis, owners of Griff's Farm and Home Center, pose Friday for a portrait in front of their supply store in Pendleton.
By Abe Hardesty of the Independent Mail
PENDLETON — Having spent most of his 73 years on a farm, Bruce Turner knows what farmers need.
That's why, when Turner needed fly repellent for his cattle on a hot summer day in late June, he drove from his Oconee County farm to Pendleton.
"They have anything you need," Turner said about Griff's Farm and Home Center, where he's been a customer for more than 40 years. "Very seldom have I come here that they didn't have it in stock."
Turner has raised cows, chickens, cotton, tobacco and vegetables over the years on his farm near Seneca. He's found supplies for all of them in the long aisles of the locally-owned store near U.S. 76, where the Griffis family relocated the store in 1985.
Well-stocked shelves and customer service were the missions when Kenneth "Bo" Griffis started the store in downtown Pendleton in 1970. Griffis, a South Georgia native, had operated a cafeteria and later a canteen at Pendleton's Excelsior Finishing Plant for 20 years, while working at his farm on weekends and evenings.
At the time, the few farm stores in the area were closed on Saturdays — the only day he had the opportunity to buy supplies.
"He soon saw that as a good reason to open a farm store," said son Wayne Griffis, who, along with his brother, Randy, has worked in the store for all of its 46 years.
Teens when it opened, they worked in the store after school and on weekends.
The devotion to the store was their father's idea at the time, but both now view it as time well spent. Amid changes on the shelves and outside the building, they enjoy the familiarity of a store that has very little employee turnover.
They've shared the same small office since the store, which first operated in the former site of the Pendleton Theater (now the Pendleton Playhouse), moved to its present location.
The staff has been intact for almost that long. Troy Griffis, 28-year-old son of Wayne, started working part-time in the seventh grade and has been full-time since his graduation from Pendleton High School. Jacob Keyster, son-in-law of Randy, is another familiar face.
At the front counter, Lynne Chavis has been a fixture for 30 years. Virginia Powell, who joined the staff 23 years ago, is accustomed to being called the newbie.
Bo Griffis saw the value of a familiar face when he opened the store, which he named "Griff's" simply because it's much easier to pronounce than his family name. His sons, who bought the store in 1992, share the philosophy.
"We're open from eight to six Monday through Saturday, and in 46 years, there probably not been five hours that one of us has not been here," Wayne said, referring to his brother and father. "Most of the time, two of us are here.
"We've always felt like we needed to be here, because we've been doing it longer than anyone else, and we know where everything is, and we know what the customers have been using."
The work ethic was carved into the psyche long ago in the Griffis household, where workdays often begin early. In those teen years, Randy (now 62) and Wayne (now 60) often began the day by unloading feed supply trucks at 5 a.m.
"The truck drivers would call my mom when they turned off I-85, and she would wake us up," Wayne recalled. "We'd go to the store, unload a truck, get back to the house for a shower and then go to school."
At times, in the era before cellphones, the career training involved executive decisions.
"In the summer, a slow time for the farm business back then, I remember running the store the whole day at age 14. Dad would have to go somewhere and say, 'Take care of it,'" Wayne said. "I made some good decisions and some bad ones. We learned."
While learning the prices of seeds and feeds, Wayne learned that Bo Griffis had good self-taught business skills.
"He was honest, and built relationships," Wayne said. "And he had good vision, you would say."
He demanded a full days' work, family or not. Prime evidence, Troy said, is the lack of photographs from the early years of the business. He broke into a hearty laugh when asked how his grandfather would have reacted to him taking photos while others were working.
Randy added, "I think he would have told us to put the camera down and get to work."
Bo was a near-daily fixture at the store until colon cancer shortened his life in 2010, and remains a frequent subject at a store that offers a wide range of supplies and free advice.
The old-school work ethic and the familiar faces tend to overshadow the fact that some elements of the business have changed markedly since Bo began turning an old theater into a showroom for farm supplies.
Today, Wayne tends to linger near the old-fashioned seed scales and the larger white Dayton scales. Amid reminders of another era — prices of barbed wire, pond stocking and cattle vaccines — he gets a frequent glimpse of a changing culture.
"We've diversified a lot," said Wayne, a ninth-grade student at Pendleton High when his father opened the store.
In those days, the store's mission was to provide supplies for farm animals year-round — primarily cattle, hogs and chickens — and vegetable seeds and plants each spring. It continues to do that, selling more than 25,000 bales of hay each year and seeds of more than 70 plants.
"Back then, people didn't feed wild birds, but now we sell a lot of feed for wildlife," Wayne said.
Lawn care reflects another big change.
"Only the rich people had pretty lawns, and they usually hired people to take care of lawns," Wayne said, "so we didn't carry a lot of those type supplies."
Today, a big percentage of the showroom floor space is devoted to lawn and soil care. Even more space is devoted to animal food.
Just a few steps into the store, customers are greeted by more than 60 varieties of dog food. That includes 16 varieties of Blue Buffalo, a premium brand.
The dog food section reminds Troy that much has changed in his decade as a full-time staffer.
"Ten years ago, we couldn't sell Blue Buffalo," he said, referring to what is now the most popular brand. "It's pretty costly. Back then, we usually only had one kind of dog food. Unless you had a good bird dog or coon dog, you didn't care what kind of dog food they ate."
Horse feed has also undergone radical change. Griff's offers more than 100 varieties, far more than Bo could have imagined back in the day.
"We have a lot of specialty diets," Wayne said. "We have low-carb, a different kind depending on age, and a different type if the horse has a hoof problem."
The changes make the workdays more interesting for the Griffis brothers, who lead a store that — with one exception — has improved its financial numbers in each of its first 46 years.
"It's been a fun 46 years," Wayne said. "I've never had a day that I didn't want to come to work."