The Milpitas location of An-Jan Feed & Pet Supply (111 S. Main St.) put the word out last Tuesday that it will be closing, ending a decades-long run as Milpitas’ premier supplier of pet food and supplies.
The store’s long history can be traced back to 1969, when a couple named John and Ann Rademakers purchased a garden supply store on South First Street in San Jose. That store also happened to sell pet feed. In time, the garden supply line slipped into the background as the pet products came forward. Soon one store turned into six, and the Milpitas location was a proud part of the lineup.
Since the 1990s, Laurie Allanders has been the location’s owner. The Beat stopped in on Friday for a chat with Assistant Manager Johnny Carrillo, who’s worked his way up to his current position over his year and seven months at the store.
“I love it here, man,” Johnny said to The Beat. “This is my best job I’ve ever had. I have the best manager here…”
He was speaking of one Aaron Harrison, whom he prizes foremost for his leadership skills: “He values your opinion. He knows how things are done,” Johnny explained. And: “He’s read a lot of books,” Johnny added with a laugh, “so he knows what he’s doing.”
But the past five years have been difficult ones for An-Jan, as the store has found itself losing revenue due to COVID; too many people changed their shopping habits and became reliant on Amazon and other online sources.
The nail in the coffin was when An-Jan’s warehouse lease ran out. They soon got hit with a $4,000-a-month increase. Knowing they could not afford that, they shopped around. But no other warehouses were presenting realistic alternatives.
Meanwhile, over the years, the store has accumulated a good amount of loyal regulars. Johnny is used to serving customers who’ve been coming in for over 40 years. He himself has been coming in for decades, as his family shopped at An-Jan when he was a kid. Their pet products, chicken feed, bird seed, dog food, and horse feed draw in people from the farthest corners of Milpitas; horse farmers are known to come down from the hills to stock up on bags of feed.
As of last week’s closure announcement, customers have started asking the staff for other nearby options. But Johnny knows that their location’s convenience won’t be replicated; people will either have to leave Milpitas or get used to online shopping to meet their needs.
According to Johnny, their customers have been “devastated.” One lady, a weekly patron who comes in for chicken food, almost broke into tears when she heard the news. Johnny himself said that he teared up, also. “This is just an amazing place,” he said, looking around at the quickly-emptying shelves.
Many items in the store are now 50% off. They plan on keeping the lights on till the inventory’s gone. Between now and then, Milpitas residents will still have a chance to take advantage of An-Jan’s many offerings.
But don’t delay, because any day now might end up being their last. “Every time I come in here,” Johnny said, “I’ve been thinking it’s the end times, ya know what I mean?”