By JENNIFER NESBITT
ThisWeek Staff Writer
Editor's note: This is the final story in a five-part series examining what makes Uptown Westerville unique and highlighting selected businesses there.
Nestled among galleries, boutiques, niche stores and antiques dealers, the proprietors of DJ's Feed Store, 41 N. State St., know they're a bit of an oddity in Uptown Westerville.
"It almost seems out of place," manager Bill Rohrbaugh said. "We're an old type of store, and it just has kind of a nostalgic feel to it."
But he said operating a business that's slightly out of the norm has its advantages, often attracting intrigued passersby into the 28-year-old business.
While those people might not be in the market for horse feed, dog food or birdseed, they may find a handmade bird house, homemade dog treats or other specialty items in the store.
"We try to get things that are unique, that you can't find anywhere," Rohrbaugh said.
The store also offers advantages over large national stores that offer similar products, said owner David Chapman. DJ's Feed Store provides customers with one-on-one attention and an extensive knowledge of animals and how to care for them, he said.
"As long as you stand there, we're going to talk about your rabbit, your hamster, your horse," Chapman said. "You go into a box store, and you get a 20-year-old who only knows what he's been taught."
Chapman and his wife, Kathy, purchased DJ's Feed Store nearly two years ago. Kathy was a regular customer at the store and noticed the for-sale sign on the counter one day.
Though both were working full-time jobs, Chapman said they were led to buy the store because of their passion for animals.
"My wife and I have always loved animals," he said. "We just have a passion for animals."
That passion has become part of the business culture at the store.
DJ's works with Central Ohio Greyhound Rescue, providing people with opportunities to meet adoptable, rescued greyhounds and to talk with the people who own them.
They also offer classes for pit bulls and help rescued animals find homes -- and more than one dog has found its way home with the Chapmans.
Since the Chapmans took over the store, they've seen business grow.
When Chapman lost his job a year ago, he began making stops to see people who owned horses in order to drum up business. DJ's also began offering same-day deliveries and now has customers from as far away as Johnstown.
With that success, Chapman said he and his wife have been blessed, despite the reservations they had when making the transition from working full-time jobs elsewhere to focusing on DJ's full time.
"It's been a blessing in disguise. We were both scared," Chapman said. "This place is so fun, I don't even consider it a job."
That passion for the work, which is shared by the store's two employees, is what has made the store a mainstay in Uptown, both Chapman and Rohrbaugh said.
"It's not just ringing the register. It's the camaraderie or the bond we create with our customers," Rohrbaugh said. "When we see the satisfaction from the customer, it makes us feel good."