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Own a piece of Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply in Tampa, closed after 61 years

On Jan. 21, its inventory and furnishings will be auctioned. Items includes more than 100 vintage signs.
A few of the signs that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, 9513 N. Nebraska Av. in Tampa. The store closed after more than six decades but nostalgic residents can now bring home a piece of the iconic shop via an auction.
A few of the signs that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, 9513 N. Nebraska Av. in Tampa. The store closed after more than six decades but nostalgic residents can now bring home a piece of the iconic shop via an auction. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jan. 5

TAMPA — For 61 years, Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply was a go to place for farm, garden and pet goods.

But it was also an industry museum of sorts. Adorning the walls were old signs from around the country. Most promoted store products, past and present. Others were collected for decoration by the store owners.

Typically, 35 would be on display. In storage were more than another 60 that were rotated onto the walls.

The store closed in November.

On Jan. 21, its inventory and furnishings will be auctioned from the store at 9513 N. Nebraska Ave.

Items include wooden wheelbarrows and wagons, chicken cages, pallets of supplies and a feed delivery truck featuring product logos and the store’s name.

Auctioneer John Harris expects vintage sign aficionados to take notice of the collection.

“They don’t consider those to be signs,” he said. “They’re art.”

One of the signs that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, 9513 N. Nebraska Ave.
One of the signs that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, 9513 N. Nebraska Ave. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The oldest sign might date to the early 1900s when, in major cities, spitting was banned to help slow the spread of tuberculosis.

“Spitting on stations, platforms and approaches, being a misdemeanor, is punishable by $500 fine, a year in prison, or both,” it reads.

There are also signs for Eshelman Red Rose Feeds, once the oldest animal feed business in the nation; Wayne Feeds, which is still around; Canada’s defunct Poussins Tweddle Chick Farm; a product known as A.C. Daniel’s Horse and Dog Medicine and a few that promoted Shell’s during its six decades.

Greg Shell, the second-generation owner of the family business, said his favorite is the sign promoting another former family business — Jim Dandy Feed & Supply, which was at 3002 E. Seventh Ave.

One of the signs that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply in Tampa. This one belonged to another of the Shell's family businesses.
One of the signs that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply in Tampa. This one belonged to another of the Shell's family businesses. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Jim Dandy is a brand of animal feed, and that location was once the local “distribution point,” Shell said. “It was owned by my grandfather, Henry Shell Jr.”

According to news archives, the store was originally called Staf-O-Life Feed Store and became Jim Dandy Feed & Supply by 1960.

“My grandfather took it over from somebody else, but I don’t know when,” Shell said. “My father bought it from him in the 1990s and ran it for a few years. He did it so my grandfather could retire.”

By then, Shell’s father, Charles Shell, had already established his own business and ran it in conjunction with Jim Dandy Feed & Supply.

The truck that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply.
The truck that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
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In 1961, Charles Shell purchased Smith’s Feed & Seed, located on the corner of Busch Boulevard and Nebraska Avenue, and renamed it Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply.

Shell’s original location was razed when Busch Boulevard was widened. So, in 1966, the store moved a few blocks to where it remained until closing in November.

Some signs, like the Texas Cattle Raisers Association’s declaring “No Trespassing,” were in storage for so long that Shell had forgotten about them.

Others, like the 1980s sign promoting Winston Rodeo Series cigarettes, were nostalgic.

“That used to hang on my bedroom wall when I was 13,” laughed Shell, 50. “I can’t think of another teenager that can say that, but my dad gave it to me because I liked it. It’s just a cool sign.”

A few of the signs that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply.
A few of the signs that will be auctioned off at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

If you go

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply Auction

When: 10 a.m. on Jan. 21

Where: 9513 N. Nebraska Ave.

To preview the available items: Visit harrisauctionsllc.com or stop by the store between noon and 4 p.m. on Jan. 20.