Malta Farm & Ranch Supply may be small, but it fills a big need
Story and photos by Dianna Troyer
Desperate for a tube of Liquid Nails, a construction adhesive, some technicians working on a project at a dairy near Malta stopped at Malta Farm & Ranch Supply.
“They didn’t want to drive 40 miles into Burley to get one,” says store owner Sherry Southern. “I don’t usually stock it, but happened to have a tube because I was working on a cupboard and countertop here for our coffee pots. They were so grateful to buy it.”
Another time, a customer needed a paintbrush, an item she happened to bring from home to paint the same countertop.
“I laugh about selling stuff I’ve brought from home,” Sherry says. “It’s what the store is all about: providing whatever people need and saving them a trip to Burley. If I don’t sell something, like a certain type of feed for livestock, let me know, and I’ll try to get it stocked.”
Last fall, Sherry and her husband, Kirk, their daughter, Alle, and her husband, Bryce Williams, bought the store on Main Street.
“We bought it because we didn’t want it to close,” Sherry says. “A lot of people depend on it.”
The Southerns, who own a ranch at Sublett, understand firsthand how important it is to have agricultural supplies as well as gifts nearby. At the store, they sell livestock feed and medications, sawdust bedding, mineral blocks, horseshoes, plumbing and hardware supplies, and gifts such as wild rag scarves and hand-tooled leather purses.
Sherry says she strives to continue the hospitality of previous owners. She points to a saying above the entrance door, “Bless all who enter.”
As if on cue, the store’s shaggy canine mascot, Savvy, strolls over to welcome rancher Tim Tracy.
“It’s convenient to come here,” says Tim, who buys a quart of oil. “Sherry stocks the parts I need for a lot of things like water troughs. I’d rather support a locally owned business here than a big box store in Burley. Besides, it saves me time and gas to buy here instead of running into town.”
The store is a family enterprise. Bryce moved his leatherworking shop into a section of the store where he makes saddles and tack, braids rawhide reins, and creates hand-tooled leather journal covers and purses. Alle handles accounting and weaves custom mohair cinches for saddles.
“Whatever I make or repair, I want to keep it affordable for the working cowboy,” Bryce says. “I started doing all this because I couldn’t afford to buy chaps, so I made my own. I really like taking a raw piece of leather and making something that will outlast me and can be handed down for generations.”
Ron Harper of Malta stops in to look at Bryce’s tack.
“It’s nice to have high-quality leatherwork close to home,” Ron says. “It saves me a trip to town.”
Bryce says his business has grown steadily since he moved his tools and sewing machine to the store.
“By word of mouth, people know I’m here and will drop in,” he says.
Sherry gives customers her business card with her phone number on it.
“If you have an after-hours emergency, call me,” she says. “If I’m home, I’ll come down.”
Malta Farm & Supply is open Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.