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ENTREPRENEURS CATER TO THE BIRDS

Jack and Merri Cook are operating Wildbird and Backyard General Store in Brookings. (The Pilot/Marjorie Woodfin).
Jack and Merri Cook are operating Wildbird and Backyard General Store in Brookings. (The Pilot/Marjorie Woodfin).

By Marjorie Woodfin

Pilot staff writer

Wildbird and Backyard General Store on Chetco Avenue is filled with birdseed, bird houses, and bird calls. In fact, one can't walk into the door without hearing a welcoming birdcall.

Owners Jack and Merri Cook, who have been involved in retail stores for years, said when they moved to their home in Smith River two years ago they began thinking about something new and fun that they could bring to Brookings.

"We wanted to bring something new to the community," Merri said. There was no specialty birdseed store in town, so their shop is definitely something new, and anyone who hangs around for a short while will discover that they and their customers certainly seem to be having fun.

One female customer was overheard recently as she walked in the door saying, "Aren't there darling things in here. Oh, I love it, I love it."

The Cooks first visited Brookings in 1946 to visit grandparents. Five years ago, they started building a home on property they had purchased in Smith River in the 1960s. Two years ago, they moved into their new home and began talking about a business. "It's a wonderful place," Merri said.

They still own two convenience stores with Subway restaurants in them in the Portland area, and Jack commutes between the two locations while Merri stays in Brookings to serve the birdseed customers.

The shop is filled with interesting items, including jewelry, cards, T-shirts, art, Republic tea, candles, binoculars, indoor and outdoor decorations, squirrel bungees, and anything and everything for birds.

However, birdseed is their business, and all of the other items are just for fun, Merri emphasized. "We are a wild birdseed location, and we have a seed club." She said.

She explained that those who purchase seed regularly, receive $10 in credit to use for any store purchase for every $100 spent on birdseed.

And they carry serious amounts of different kinds of birdseed, in package sizes from 1 to 50 pounds.

During an interview with Merri, a couple from Gold Beach, obviously wild bird enthusiasts, was busily loading four, 40-pound bags of sunflower and other wild birdseeds into their vehicle last week.

For those who may be bird watching novices who would like to be able to identify the birdcalls they hear, there are several types of items that can broadcast and identify birdcalls.

The Cooks have issued an open invitation to drop in for a cup of tea, browse around, and talk about birds and other wildlife.

They have also issued a special invitation to a Wild Bird Seed Seminar at 6 p.m. July 23, at their shop, 1109 Chetco Ave. The guest speaker will be seed expert Briana Coburn, the Southern Oregon District Manager with Animal Supply. Merri promised that Coburn "will present a fun and informative discussion on wild bird feeding and seed choices.

The invitation adds ... "So please join us for light refreshments and learn all you ever wanted to know about feeding your favorite feathered friends."

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