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Store aisles not wide enough

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Store aisles not wide enough

Old McGowan’s Feed prides itself as family-owned as indicated by its front sign.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED June 14, 2014 1:44 a.m.

Manteca Feed was like the Toys ‘R Us for farmers in Manteca and surrounding areas for more than half a century.

These days, many of those in agriculture who have been lifelong regular customers still refer to it as Manteca Feed although, for several years now, the marquee up front says Old McGowan’s Feed.

But not much has changed following the nomenclature switch.

Below the name of the business emblazoned right above the entrance to the barn-like structure on East Lathrop Road just west of the Highway 99 interchange under construction are the words that have always been identified with this staple business in Manteca: Family-Owned. The business is currently being managed by a family member, Rebecca Campbell.

It may not go by the Manteca Feed business moniker anymore, but its family-oriented spirit still holds true.

“They had a lot of different stuff,” said retired farmer Al DeGroot who, for decades, owned and operated almond orchards, a dairy, and a cheese factory in north Manteca along with his brothers.

While they were regular customers, they did not do business with the old Manteca Feed as much and as often as the other farmers in the area did, DeGroot said.

“Whatever we bought there were items for the house type of thing,” he said.

Many area farmers recall the old Manteca Feed being full of everything they needed at the farm. They “carried a lot of stuff,” including hay, grain, veterinary supplies, coal for heating appliances at one time, live animals, chickens, baby ducks, chicken, and the like. Today, Old McGowan’s Feed is still much of that, and more. Along with all the staple supplies for farmers on the shelves today is a wide array of nostalgic antique and vintage farm collectibles, home décor, knick knacks, and some practical items such as handmade aprons and other utilitarian items.

“They had a lot of different stuff; we had no problems” at all shopping there, added DeGroot about Old McGowan’s old precursor.

Until recently, though, when Old McGowan’s Feed became one of the unfortunate targets of Carmichael attorney Scott Johnson who has filed lawsuits against some three-dozen businesses in Manteca and Ripon alleging noncompliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

Campbell said McGowan’s has already complied with the demands in the complaint lodged by Johnson  – wider aisles for wheelchairs inside the store.

According to records obtained by the Bulletin, 30 businesses – many of them small and family-owned like Old McGowan’s – in Manteca alone have had lawsuits already filed against their ADA noncompliance, while 11 businesses have been sent letters of notifications but with no lawsuits filed against them as of June 4.

At least one business, the Barnwood Restaurant in Ripon, has decided to close its doors because its owners said they were unable to come up with the money that the ADA complaint was mandating them to do. With the closure of the business  the accompanying loss of revenue for the City of Ripon is the loss of jobs for 12 of the Barnwood’s employees.

“The ADA lawsuit is just the final nail in the coffin. We needed two years to get the business up and running after buying it last year,” restaurant business partners Don Lee and Ken Hildebrand told a Bulletin reporter on Wednesday when they notified their staff about the closure.

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