Cedarburg mill remains true to historic roots while peddling pet food
In a community rich with iconic buildings, few structures reflect Cedarburg’s sense of historic preservation better than Landmark Feed, Seed & Supply, N58 W6181 Columbia Rd.
The stone mill has towered over Columbia Road along the banks of Cedar Creek for more than 150 years.
It has long been a favorite setting for tourists snapping quintessential scenic shots and painters trying to capture days of yore on canvas.
The mill was constructed by Frederick Hilgen and William Schroeder in 1844 and is reported to be the oldest continually operating business venue in the city.
The mill stands five stories high, and its stone foundation walls are 32 inches thick.
But owners Doug and Lynn Wilde note that the stately structure is also home to a thriving business.
The couple bought Landmark Feed in 2005. They also own pet food shops in Slinger and Menomonee Falls.
The Cedarburg store carries a huge stock of pet foods and supplies, as well as the area’s largest selection of feed for wild birds.
“We put a lot of work into building the business back up after the previous owner had let it tank. We did a lot to clean the place up, but it is pretty hard to keep a feed store pristine,” Mrs. Wilde said.
“The Cedarburg store has always had a reputation for its bird seed, but we want to make it more rounded in providing a greater selection of pet foods and supplies.”
The store now carries dog food from 23 companies and cat food from 21 makers. It will be adding the full line of Purina animal feed by the end of the month.
“A lot of what people will find at our store are holistic foods, and high-end items they aren’t able to purchase at the grocery store,” Wilde said.
Eight formulas of horse feed are offered, along with feed to meet the needs of virtually any hobby farmer, with products for animals from poultry to pot-bellied pigs.
Still, birds and their preferred menus are the stock that make Landmark Feed distinct.
Reflecting the love many Ozaukee County residents have for their feathered neighbors, the store touts more than 100 mixes of seeds for birds.
The specific recipes are critical because migrating and resident birds are discriminating diners. The mixes are custom blended by the store’s vendors.
A songbird mix includes black oil and striped sunflower seed, cracked corn, white millet, milo, wheat and oat groats created to attract a wide range of colorful and tuneful birds to backyard feeders.
Fanciers of cardinals can get a specialized feed that mixes sunflower seeds, cracked corn, white millet, sunflower hearts, safflower, oat groats, canary seed, red millet, nyger seed and nut meats.
To draw finches to feeders, the store has developed a mix called Thistledoo — which contains fine sunflower chips, nyger seed, canary seed, white millet, finch millet, red millet, flax seed, rape seed and fine oyster shell grit.
With an eye for the picky homeowner, the store has developed its no-waste mix, which includes 100% edible seeds that leave no mess around the feeder. That mix is sold at the onset of winter, so homeowners won’t find a pile of seed shells on the ground when spring arrives.
Other blends include seeds that are appealing to specific birds while being spurned by undesirable species, or even voracious squirrels.
“I pick up a lot of information from the serious birders who come into the store. They are always glad to share which birds like what types of seed, and we pass that information along to the less-knowledgeable birders,” Wilde said.
An example of that ever-growing database is the tip that putting meal worms on your feeder is a great way to attract eastern bluebirds.
A staggering array of feeders and bird houses is stocked, from the practical to the ornate.
“The real birders don’t care too much what the feeders look like as long as they work. Then there are those who are more interested in getting something that looks cutesy to decorate their yard,” Wilde said.
The store offers custom mixes of grass seed designed to meet the specific sun and soil needs of the area. Wildflower and prairie grass seeds are also available.
Although the store does a steady business, Wilde admitted that much of the traffic who have no intention of picking up feed.
“The mill draws a lot of tourists, but they aren’t usually too interested in walking out with a big bag of seed under their arm,” she said.
“Tourists are always welcome because we realize that the building is a big part of local history. After all, this was a feed mill from the time it was built.”
LANDMARK FEED HAS been an icon of Cedarburg’s business community since the days it was erected as a grain mill in 1844. Owner Doug Wilde (lower right photo) inspected a bag of custom-mixed bird seed, the store’s specialty. Josh Mueller (Bottom right) keeps busy, lugging animal feed and grass seed for customers of the historic business. Photos by Sam Arendt