Meet Aggie and JoePa, store managers at the Imperial Agway. I met them first in August when I stopped in to visit for the first time and reacquainted today when I stopped in for a few things and to show some of my greeting cards for their card rack.
When I wrote about the Robinson Agway closing last October, the Imperial Agway posted a comment on the post inviting me out to their store. It’s a little farther, but, you know, twist my arm and make me drive on winding country roads so that I have to stop and take photos—it’s worth the drive for that. Besides the distance it took a while for me to get there—nearly a year, but I knew there were certain things I preferred to buy from a small business like this, and they seemed to also carry a number of products that even my old friends at the Robinson Agway didn’t carry.
I visited in August to pick up diatomaceous earth for the fleas we’ve been fighting here, bird seed for a good price, and wood pellets, my preferred cat litter, and to check their pet supplies section, especially the premium foods and raw diets they carried. Indeed, they did have a huge pet supplies area, nearly 1/3 of the store, including high-quality foods and accessories. They also had medium and large bags of various bird seed mixes and the diatomacous earth I’d been looking for, and large bags of the wood pellets used for horse bedding that I like for the litterbox. And each of the four people I spoke with about the products was very knowledgeable and helpful—more than I’d gotten from the unhappy teenagers at any of the national chains I’d stopped at or the local chain I had been regularly shopping at for a while because it began to carry one of the raw diets.
And they have two wonderful cats. What could be better? Both girls cruise the store, especially Aggie, short for “Agway”, of course, the sociable dilute calico. Here she gets the news from my cats while sniffing my bag and its contents.
JoePa was sleeping in a half-bushel of dog toys the last time I stopped in, but this time she was quite present, greeting me as I walked in the store, then inspecting my bag. I had carried a selection of cards with me and she had the same reaction to them as my cats did—the little basket packed with cards on end made a really comfortable bed. JoePa was happy with petting until she had settled on the basket and was just about to fall asleep, at which point I got a swat and a tortie swear word. Then she curled up and had a nap. I decided to shop.
I chose my things to buy and we decided on a selection of Halloween cards for their display racks for now, and I know I can stock up on bird seed and wood pellet litter. Ironically, it’s also not far from a connecting trail to the one I often ride on and if I was ambitious I could ride my bike there and back. I like to give myself a destination for my bicycling, but I’m not sure how I’d pedal back with big bags of bird seed or wood pellets, and unless it’s winter carrying frozen food is kind of out for this activity. But it still might be a fun destination some day just because it’s there.
They actually have “two-and-one-half cats” because the third tends to spend a lot of time across the street. All of them are rescues, adopted in from other places. Matt, one of the managers, said he’s had cats all his life, and as he cuddled Aggie said that in nearly any photo of him from his childhood you’ll also see a cat.
One of the employees is also named Matt (I called them Matt 1 and Matt 2) and he’s the one who actually “chose” Aggie when she was a tiny kitten. He was delivering materials to a local commercial customer and Aggie jumped on his shoulder and would not leave. The “interview”, as it were, was successful and Aggie was hired as one of the store’s supervisors.
Both cats have the run of the building and the property, but like the cats at the other Agway I visited, they pretty much stayed inside or right around the building. While there are materials in the building that might be considered hazardous, the store is clean and materials are carefully displayed so there’s little chance for any of the cats to encounter something potentially toxic. One of the things I find disagreeable about visiting many hardware and home renovation stores is the pervasive smell of lawn chemicals when I enter, but I didn’t smell any chemicals at all on entering this store, and I also saw a large selection of less toxic and organic alternatives to the typical lawn and garden chemicals.
And I guess the girls do have the traditional titles of “mousecatcher” since, with all the animal feeds and proximity to woods and fields there are no doubt a few of those who dare to enter. Aggie and JoePa prefer to be referred to as supervisors, though, and require daily cuddles as you see demonstrated here.
While the Imperial Agway is a nicer store than many I’ve visited, its name actually refers to its location in Imperial, PA, west of Pittsburgh. If you’re local and would like to stop there to meet Aggie and JoePa and possibly purchase a few things, visit them at 400 Main Street, Imperial, PA 15126. It’s a great thing to support a small business with knowledgeable employees, especially one with cats.
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