Friday, March 27, 2015
Not many Troy businesses claim a lion among their “satisfied customers,” yet the diversity of Uncle Luke’s Feed Store’s inventory makes such unusual customer needs a part of daily business. Living out the motto “If it eats, we feed it,” Uncle Luke’s serves the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, the Troy police K-9 unit, Troy lawns and gardens, wild birds and chickens and, in season, people hungry for local produce.
Uncle Luke’s is a family-run business that started even before Troy was a city. Originally, the Abernathy family ran the business in a shed on the 40-acre property off Livernois Road. The current building was constructed in 1947, as Stiles Feed Store, selling farm supplies and hardware. When Luke Pearson purchased the business, Uncle Luke’s acquired its name and a print shop. Tom Telford was the next owner.
In 1987, current owner Wilbur White bought the business from the Telford estate. Now 83 years old, Mr. White has delegated day-to-day operations to his sons, Dale and Wil, Jr., who continue to define their business as “everything.” In 2014, rain-soaked Troy Family Daze turned to Uncle Luke’s for more than 40 bales of straw, to provide pathways through the mud. Something is going on in every season: maple syrup and garden plants; locally-produced eggs; cat, chicken, goat and pigeon food; even ice dam supplies.
Uncle Luke’s website includes “Oh, What to Serve, What to Serve?” – a guide to feeding wild birds with more than ten categories of foods. The site links to bird photos, for identification.
The family tradition continues with sons and daughters, nieces and nephews working at Uncle Luke’s because it is, Dale states, “a good experience for any kid to work with the public.”
About that lion, who arrived by horse trailer at the front door of Uncle Luke’s. Cat owners know how strong cat urine smells. Multiply that hundreds of times to understand the challenge of trying to control the smell with a full-grown lion. Help was at hand, though, as Uncle Luke’s provided Stall DRY for yet another satisfied customer. A family tradition continues in Troy.
Sources: Dale White and Wilbur White, Jr., operators of Uncle Luke’s Feed Store. Contributed by Joann Preston
Photo: A step inside Uncle Luke’s Feed Store is a step into an “everything” store, with a family tradition
To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.