Clemmons Mill is as much a destination for its historic ambiance as it is for feed, seed and pet supplies.
The mill, which has served area gardeners and farmers for more than 100 years, specializes in food for livestock and pets.
But it’s so much more.
“It’s been here so long; the people that come here like the old building,” says Mark Newman, who has worked at the mill for 26 years and managed it for a time.
“Artists will come here and take a picture of the building and take it home and do a painting,” he says. ”It’s just a historical site.”
With its timber framing, brick walls and vintage signs, the building is one of the oldest structures in Clemmons and perhaps the oldest continuous business in the community.
The mill seems a little out of place in a residential area on Hampton Road just south of the intersection of U.S. 158. But it‘s just as important to the community now as it was when
L.C. Hobson built it in 1920 to grind and mix feed for area farmers.
A year later, J.E. Brewer purchased the mill, and it became a full-fledged farm-supply source for the area and shipped its Clemmons Mill branded feeds throughout North Carolina and neighboring states.
“Back in its heyday … they were well known outside this area,” says Steve Preston, co-owner of LTD Farm and Garden of King, which owns the mill.
The mill remained in the Brewer family for nearly 70 years before it was sold in 1988. Since then, it’s had several owners, including High Point University, before LTD took it over.
“I imagine it was a place back in the day where guys would come in and play checkers, talk about the weather or the news and talk about crops,” Preston says.
Not much has changed since then.
If the worn floorboards could talk, they would have plenty of stories to tell of what happened above – and below – them.
Stories like building the mixing room in 1944. The basement underneath the room was dug by German prisoners of war during World War II. That’s right, German prisoners were held in more than a dozen POW camps across the state, including one in Winston-Salem. Many of the POWs worked in the agricultural industry.
The mixing room equipment is now silent, but Newman remembers when the last bags of feed were mixed on site before the antiquated process gave way to feed mixed at larger plants and shipped to the store.
The area is home to horse farms, and the mill stocks close to a 100 kinds of horse feed, along with equestrian tack. It also sells items for animal health such as wound spray and dog-deworm treatments.
You’ll find economy and premium dog and cat food along with dog and cat collars, leashes and other pet accoutrements, plus feed for birds, goats, rabbits, chickens and livestock.
“Anything to do with animals, we’ve pretty much got it,” Newman says.
The mill remains a hub for the community. The foot traffic continues to be brisk with customers coming in for seed to plant, a sack of dog or chicken food, or horse supplies. Many stop in for a snack and a soda, or just to soak up the historic ambiance and stand on the antique Detecto Scales, used for years to weigh bins of corn and grains.
“We have customers that come in old pickup trucks all the way up to brand new Mercedes and BMWs,” Preston says.
Old-fashioned farm supply stores are disappearing, Newman says.
“There aren’t many of them left,” he says.
Still, the staff continues to serve farmers, home gardeners and equestrians as they always have. A sign behind the register reads, “Advice is still free at Clemmons Mill.”
“We don’t guarantee if it’s good advice or bad advice,” Newman says with a laugh.
But that does not stop people from coming in and asking about a sick pet or plopping a plant on the counter and asking what kind of weed it is.
“The older generation won’t go anywhere but here because they’ve been coming here for 40 years,” Newman says