Cove Feed & Seed set to close up shop
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On June 3, Cove Feed & Seed owner Elaine Cline announced her family’s decision to close the store on July 1.
Cove Feed & Seed Shoppe, a mainstay on Business 190 for more than 50 years, was opened by Cline’s father, the late Frank DiMuccio, when the highway was a mere two-lane roadway.
“Dad was assigned to Fort Hood with the military in the fall of ‘62. He and mom purchased the land from H.J. Dewald in December of ’64,” Cline said. The store opened in the spring of 1966 and at the time it was the farthest building east on Highway 190 and was three car-lengths back from the road, Cline added. As Cove grew, it grew around the store, and as Highway 190 widened, the store’s parking lot narrowed. The DiMuccios built a second building in 1972, with the third building and greenhouse addition being completed in 1975.
In looking back over the decades of the store’s history, Cline said she didn’t arrive quickly at the decision to close and it was something she had been contemplating for some time.
In fact, the family had been hoping for a buyer for the store as far back as last summer after DiMuccio passed away in December 2015.
Even now, Cline believes that if a buyer can be found, the store would stand a chance of staying open. At the moment, though, she is making preparations to close.
Part of the decision to close now has to do with the timing of present employees leaving, like young Bailey Reno, who has worked at the store for more than a year. She recently graduated from high school and is moving as she prepares to enroll in EMT school.
Reno said she’s enjoyed working at the store because it’s very family oriented and it’s an opportunity to always meet new people.
“(Working here) has definitely helped me grow as a person,” Reno said. Another employee is leaving to be an over-the-road truck driver.
Of her employees’ departures, Cline said it also made sense to close the store at this point. She’s run the store along with her daughter, Mandy, with the assistance of two employees and volunteers since her father’s death.
Cline also wanted to dispel talk that “big box” stores are responsible for the decision to close. One of the clinchers for Cline personally is the chemical sensitivities she has to face daily when working in an atmosphere like the feed and plant store.
As far as Omelette the Rooster goes, the store’s mascot will live at the Clines’ home after the store closes, and join his harem of hens. Omelette is known for greeting customers at the shop and enjoying pets and being held by visitors.
Cline’s mother ran the store until Frank’s retirement in 1969, after which Cline’s father ran the store until passing away.
“Mom was the heart and soul of the store. She was loved by the whole community,” Cline said. As for Frank, he was a wealth of knowledge.
“He knew bugs, weeds, and trees. People brought in samples and he knew exactly how to treat their issue,” Cline said. “He knew animals, large and small.”
Part of the family’s relationship with the community was Frank’s relationship with the young people. In fact, he established a scholarship for high school students.
Cline said former employee Diamond Vinson recalled the Cove Feed & Seed “Olympics” DiMuccio would hold for the workers, who would compete for bragging rights in the store.
Many a Cove resident has purchased chickens, ducks and geese from the store, along with plants for gardens and more. Children still come to the store to see the chickens and geese, and in years gone by, DiMuccio’s pet monkeys and a young calf named Buckwheat were there for the children.
In addition to being known for its animals, Cove Feed & Seed has been a “first job” for hundreds of Copperas Cove teenagers over the past five decades.
“Dad always hired kids, and he always touched their lives,” Cline said. “Many kids had their first jobs here; he gave at-risk kids a chance. He pushed them to excel, took the time to help them with their personal lives, to include educational, physical, and civil. He taught them the value of work and making choices and was a father figure to many.”