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“ a step into Brocco’s Old Barn is a reminder of the Valley’s deep agricultural roots.The red dairy barn on Arnold Drive was built in the 1920s and cattle still graze out back. The sweet smell of hay and grain greets you as you walk up a well-worn ramp and through the barn’s big sliding doors. Sunlight peeks through the gaps in the weathered walls, and the old corrugated metal roof has probably been patched a time or two.Concrete floors where cows used to stand for milking are now stacked high with a huge variety of animal supplies. An ever-changing bulletin board by the sales desk advertises all manner of things: horses for sale, pet sitting services, sheep shearing, rattlesnake removal, pet portraits, horse boarding. One ad is a lovingly rendered crayon drawing of “Two roosters for a good home.” (Free, presumably.)For a slice of “old Sonoma,” it’s hard to beat Brocco’s. Cousins Mike and Rich Brocco started the business 30 years ago as an outgrowth of the family’s agricultural trucking business. They figured they were hauling hay and feed anyway, so why not open a feed store? “We were young and dumb then,” Mike said with a grin.Not so dumb, it turns out. What started as a weekend side-venture has grown into a six-day-a-week business with five employees and thousands of different items. In fact, it’s become a challenge to display all that they carry. “This old barn’s walls are bulging,” said manager Brian Jaymot, who was raised in Sonoma and has been with Brocco’s for 15 years.Like any successful business, Brocco’s has evolved over the years to reflect changes in its environment. As the Valley has shifted from dairies and large ranches to vineyards and homes, Brocco’s has adapted with it, drawing a newer clientele while maintaining some of the same customers they’ve had for 30 years. Its product mix has diversified, but its aim for good, old-fashioned customer service has remained constant, according to Jaymot.Just like in the early days of the business, Brocco’s carries a good variety of hay, feed, bedding and supplies for large animals. These days, though, a customer buying a sack of alfalfa pellets might be using it as mulch for her backyard roses instead of as feed for her backyard horse.Some of the Valley’s large horse facilities like Saddle Rock Ranch are now gone, and where Brocco’s used to make a lot of 25-ton hay deliveries, they now make mostly 1- and 2-ton drops. Mike Brocco said there are still a lot of horses in the Valley, though. “It’s changed, but not drastically.”There are still a lot of chickens in the Valley, too, and Brocco’s stocks six different kinds of feed; Jaymot figures that they sell about two to three tons every week. But in the last few years, sales of wild birdseed to backyard birdwatchers has really taken off, nearly catching up with chicken feed volume. Brocco’s now carries eight different types of wild birdseed mix.While the original hay, grain and feed business is Brocco’s core and gives it a down-home atmosphere, Jaymot estimates that some 60% of the business is now pet supplies.They carry an array that rivals the big-box pet stores – 25 different brands of dog food alone – and what they don’t have in stock, they’ll special order. (Though it’s hard to believe you’d need to order anything else once you saw the likes of “Cowboy Cookout,” “Wingaling,” “Whitefish and Sweet Potato,” or any of the other exotic dog food flavors they have on hand.) They have dog houses, beds, leashes, supplies, treats and toys, too. Multiply all that variety across many different kinds of pets – cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, pot-bellied pigs – and you can understand why Jaymot says, “There’s never enough room.”Another important client base for Brocco’s is the local vineyards. As the Valley shifted from ranching to grape growing, Brocco’s sold straw and grass seed to grape growers for erosion control – a natural extension of the farm supply’s operations. As far as Mike Brocco knows, they’re now the only ones in town that carry straw wattles, cylindrical mats used by grape growers and construction crews to keep soil run-off to a minimum.Adding to its diverse product mix, Brocco’s carries coal, charcoal, wood pellets and salt. They provide food grade salt to the local cheese factories and water softener salt for home use. And six months ago Brocco’s added something new, with the addition of a Penske truck rental service. “There’s a bigger demand for moving trucks in the Valley than I ever thought,” said Jaymot. “Within the first week, we were busy.”Even if you don’t have farm animals, Brocco’s Old Barn is well worth a visit for its interesting variety of products and authentic feel of old-time Sonoma. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to adopt a rooster. The number’s on the bulletin board.Brocco’s Old Barn. 19660 Arnold Dr. 707.938.2291. Open M-F 8:30-5:30; Sat. 8:30-5 p.m.reminder of the Valley’s deep agricultural roots.The red dairy barn on Arnold Drive was built in the 1920s and cattle still graze out back. The sweet smell of hay and grain greets you as you walk up a well-worn ramp and through the barn’s big sliding doors. Sunlight peeks through the gaps in the weathered walls, and the old corrugated metal roof has probably been patched a time or two.Concrete floors where cows used to stand for milking are now stacked high with a huge variety of animal supplies. An ever-changing bulletin board by the sales desk advertises all manner of things: horses for sale, pet sitting services, sheep shearing, rattlesnake removal, pet portraits, horse boarding. One ad is a lovingly rendered crayon drawing of “Two roosters for a good home.” (Free, presumably.)For a slice of “old Sonoma,” it’s hard to beat Brocco’s. Cousins Mike and Rich Brocco started the business 30 years ago as an outgrowth of the family’s agricultural trucking business. They figured they were hauling hay and feed anyway, so why not open a feed store? “We were young and dumb then,” Mike said with a grin.Not so dumb, it turns out. What started as a weekend side-venture has grown into a six-day-a-week business with five employees and thousands of different items. In fact, it’s become a challenge to display all that they carry. “This old barn’s walls are bulging,” said manager Brian Jaymot, who was raised in Sonoma and has been with Brocco’s for 15 years.Like any successful business, Brocco’s has evolved over the years to reflect changes in its environment. As the Valley has shifted from dairies and large ranches to vineyards and homes, Brocco’s has adapted with it, drawing a newer clientele while maintaining some of the same customers they’ve had for 30 years. Its product mix has diversified, but its aim for good, old-fashioned customer service has remained constant, according to Jaymot.Just like in the early days of the business, Brocco’s carries a good variety of hay, feed, bedding and supplies for large animals. These days, though, a customer buying a sack of alfalfa pellets might be using it as mulch for her backyard roses instead of as feed for her backyard horse.Some of the Valley’s large horse facilities like Saddle Rock Ranch are now gone, and where Brocco’s used to make a lot of 25-ton hay deliveries, they now make mostly 1- and 2-ton drops. Mike Brocco said there are still a lot of horses in the Valley, though. “It’s changed, but not drastically.”There are still a lot of chickens in the Valley, too, and Brocco’s stocks six different kinds of feed; Jaymot figures that they sell about two to three tons every week. But in the last few years, sales of wild birdseed to backyard birdwatchers has really taken off, nearly catching up with chicken feed volume. Brocco’s now carries eight different types of wild birdseed mix.While the original hay, grain and feed business is Brocco’s core and gives it a down-home atmosphere, Jaymot estimates that some 60% of the business is now pet supplies.They carry an array that rivals the big-box pet stores – 25 different brands of dog food alone – and what they don’t have in stock, they’ll special order. (Though it’s hard to believe you’d need to order anything else once you saw the likes of “Cowboy Cookout,” “Wingaling,” “Whitefish and Sweet Potato,” or any of the other exotic dog food flavors they have on hand.) They have dog houses, beds, leashes, supplies, treats and toys, too. Multiply all that variety across many different kinds of pets – cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, pot-bellied pigs – and you can understand why Jaymot says, “There’s never enough room.”Another important client base for Brocco’s is the local vineyards. As the Valley shifted from ranching to grape growing, Brocco’s sold straw and grass seed to grape growers for erosion control – a natural extension of the farm supply’s operations. As far as Mike Brocco knows, they’re now the only ones in town that carry straw wattles, cylindrical mats used by grape growers and construction crews to keep soil run-off to a minimum.Adding to its diverse product mix, Brocco’s carries coal, charcoal, wood pellets and salt. They provide food grade salt to the local cheese factories and water softener salt for home use. And six months ago Brocco’s added something new, with the addition of a Penske truck rental service. “There’s a bigger demand for moving trucks in the Valley than I ever thought,” said Jaymot. “Within the first week, we were busy.”Even if you don’t have farm animals, Brocco’s Old Barn is well worth a visit for its interesting variety of products and authentic feel of old-time Sonoma. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to adopt a rooster. The number’s on the bulletin board.Brocco’s Old Barn. 19660 Arnold Dr. 707.938.2291. Open M-F 8:30-5:30; Sat. 8:30-5 p.m.​

 

It’s snack time at Brocco’s Old Barn and four hens are pecking happily at a generous scattering of dried mealworms. The free-range gals are part of the landscape at this rural barn and feed store, where critters are welcome, two-legged or four.

 

Almost everything at Brocco’s is for the birds, bunnies, barnyard animals and, primarily, the dogs and cats whose food and accessories account for more sales than livestock needs.

 

Thirty years ago typical customers showed up in cowboy boots or denim overalls; today women in high heels are just as likely to stop by the weathered red barn with the tin roof, exposed rafters and uneven concrete floors.

 

“A lot of people in Sonoma still do like the old-school stores,” said manager Brian Jaymot, a 22-year employee, one of nine at the barn. “We try and keep it an old-time store, old-time barn appeal. It’s not an historic landmark or anything like that.”

 

Sonoma Valley agriculture has changed dramatically since 1928 when family patriarch Mike Brocco built his barn in El Verano west of Sonoma, where the family still owns 8½ acres. Vineyards and houses have replaced many pastures and dairies that were common when Brocco purchased his property in 1922.

 

The barn initially was used as a milking pantry and for hay storage when the family had a couple thousand chicken and a few dozen cows. By 1947 the Broccos started a trucking company on the site and the barn became a storage area.

 

Cousins Rich Brocco and Mike Brocco converted their grandfather’s barn into a weekend feed store in 1978.

 

“It was strictly Saturdays and Sundays and it just grew from there,” the third-generation Mike Brocco said. “Before it was mostly people with horses, cows and sheep. You wouldn’t consider it a pet store back then. We knew hay so that was sort of our forte.”

 

Hay sales remain strong, with deliveries now headed to vineyards to combat soil erosion and to farther outlying communities. The business, though, has become something of a pet store. Shoppers can find everything from horse fly masks and hoof ointments to gourmet wild bird seed, fashion-forward cat collars and a wide variety of pet food.

 

 

 

 

Brocco’s still sells grain and alfalfa and those bales of hay, about 5,000 tons annually. It also rents hay bales for $4 each for weddings and events, including winery functions and the Outside Lands music and art festival in San Francisco.

 

Jaymot said renting hay bales is just another way to roll with the times. If customers want hay bales for seating or ambience, Brocco’s will accommodate them.

 

“It’s great. We get them back and we sell them,” Jaymot said.

 

Brocco’s now sells state fishing and hunting licenses and fishing bait; red worms for composting; rents Penske trucks; posts flyers for pet adoptions and rescue horses; maintains a popular Facebook page; stocks galvanized containers purchased more for planters than troughs; custom orders ducks, geese or turkeys; and writes every tag and receipt by hand.

 

The atmosphere is “friendly and down-home,” said Mike Brocco. “There are no pretensions here. It is what it is.”

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