Take a trip back in time
Time machines don’t exist, but customers say that stepping into Hill’s Farm & Garden Center reminds them of a long-ago general store.
Three generations of the Randall Hill family work together to provide farm, garden and lawn supplies from A to Z at Hill’s. In addition to colorful produce there are bedding plants, animal feed and seeds, along with landscaping trees, bushes and flowers and pine needles — and yes, even stick candy.
Goats bleat from pens outside the front door.
The sights, sounds, smells and tastes provide a slice of country living right smack in the middle of the city.
There’s no need to knock. Breezes blow through the building where the doors are wide open all the time.
As proof of his farming roots, patriarch Randall Hill, 75, has on the premises a red Farmall tractor that’s as old as he is.
“Folks ask me, how do you know that it’s as old as you are?” said Hill. “My grandpa Frank Hill brought this tractor home the same day I was born. He gave it to my daddy and now it’s passed down to me.”
In the center of the store, a toddler-height train table equipped with a wooden train set nestles among cages that house ferrets Oscar and Oliver, a pair of Flemish giant flop-eared rabbits named John and Dilver and a dozen unnamed cockatiels and parakeets.
“We try to cater to families,” said Hill. “Every Saturday morning, the regulars come in with the grandkids. The kids know the animals by name. People will come in and sit down to talk while the kids watch the animals or they play with Thomas the Train.”
The Hills pride themselves on customer service.
For those who weren’t raised on a farm, the Hills will order baby chicks for you and then give you advice on how to raise them.
Hill’s grandson, Sam Hill, has worked at the location since he was 13, but he was hiding behind the dog food bags long before that.
“I was born here!” he joked.
When two City of Thomasville employees come in to purchase bags of lime, Sam loads them in their truck.
On a recent morning long-time customer Kenneth Tysinger picked out a few Fuji apples while his wife, Madeline, selected potatoes.
“I’m going to make some soup,” she said.
Three generations of long-time shoppers also came in to visit including Allen and Linda Douglas and their grandchildren.
Shoppers come in for hard-to-find items such as unhomogenized milk and free-range eggs, and Rawleigh antiseptic salve and medicated ointment. Recently, Hill’s has added Amish-baked goods such as sourdough bread, whoopie pies and sticky buns.
For Steven Black, who has worked there 18 years, it’s the only job he’s ever had.
“I enjoy getting to know the customers by name,” said Black as he restocked shelves. “They come in and ask for us by name.”
“You couldn’t ask for a better family to work for,” said Jennifer Brantley, a 14 year employee. “We have a lot of good customers. It’s good to have a job you love.”
Hill said that over the years the store has changed some, but not much.
“It’s made a great place for us,” he said. “It’s not pretty but it’s in a heck of a good location.”
Hill’s daughter, Kim Hill, started the store back in 1986 in the old HPT&D (High Point, Thomasville and Denton) Railroad Freight Depot building. Initially, it only occupied the office area but now has expanded to include the entire building plus two greenhouses. Hill and his wife, Martha, joined the team full-time a few years later.
“We’re very blessed,” said Kim. “The people of Thomasville have been very good to us.”
Hill’s Farm & Garden Center is at 215 Randolph St. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Like Hill’s Farm & Garden on Facebook or call 472-3866.
Staff writer Debbie Hightower may be reached at 336-888-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.