A store that defines niche retailing is closing but the work won't end for the owners.
Susan Troller and her husband, Howard Cosgrove, have announced that they are closing their Cluck the Chicken Store that opened in 2012 in Paoli. Business has been solid and profitable each year but the couple wants to spend more time with their four grandchildren who did not exist when they opened the business in a remodeled former service station nearly seven years ago. The brood includes a set of 2 and half year old granddaughters who live in Madison.
"I have very mixed feelings about it. We make money every year and we have a great community but in order to take it to the next level it needs an infusion of new energy," Troller, 66, said of her business. "We’ve given it a lot of love and attention and now it's time to do some other things that require some love and attention."
The last day of business is scheduled for May 5 but Troller and Cosgrove are also trying to sell the business. If a buyer can't be found, they could either just sell the property or lease the building for another business.
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The shop sells a wide variety of chicken supplies, including coops, feed and feeders plus chicken themed gifts and art primarily aimed at urban chicken farmers. The store also hosted seminars about raising backyard chickens and beekeeping and even brought in a veterinarian to help chicken owners better care for their birds.
"We've loved doing what what we're doing but are there other things," Troller said. "It’s been great, great fun. I feel like its been really successful and I don't want to get to a point where I feel resentful."
Troller, a former reporter with The Capital Times, began raising chickens in 2010 and a year later wrote "Cluck: From Jungle Fowl to City Chicks." The book allowed her to visit urban farm stores and come to the realization that the Madison area, a thriving hub of urban chicken farmers, was in need of a shop that specializes in chicken supplies. Madison passed an ordinance in 2004 that allows residents to keep up to four chickens on their property. And other communities have followed suit, creating more demand for her offerings.
"I didn't know how to put money in a cash drawer," Troller said, when asked about starting the business. "The fact that we were profitable every year kind of astonished me. I had zero, zip experience in retail. But it has attracted an eclectic group of customers and we're really going to miss them."