New Decorah Hatchery owners Maria Jones and Drew Stevenson know they have some big shoes to fill.

But they're grateful to have the support of former owners Steve and Peg Matter along the way.

"It will be a slow transition," said Jones, who bought the business with her husband July 1.

"It has always been one of our favorite stores in town ... It all happened very quickly. When we heard it was for sale we decided to jump at the chance."



Decorah history

Jones said the Matters have been great to work with, and they're slowly teaching the couple what they need to know about poultry.

"The Hatchery's chicken business is such a part of Decorah history. It's been here for almost 90 years, and neither of us really knew much about chickens," she said.

"Steve is slowly passing that knowledge along. There is a lot to know, and as a third-generation owner, so much of that is just second nature to him," she said.



Quality clothing

In addition to carrying quality chicks (and other poultry), the Hatchery will continue to offer quality outdoor travel and adventure wear.

"We're keeping many of the old brands and adding a few things here and there," said Jones.

"We'll have Patagonia, Marmot, ExOfficio, SmartWool, etc. We've also brought in Arborwear, an outdoor brand geared toward climbers."

Jones added the store will carry Prana, a rock climbing and yoga brand; Ibex, merino wool made in Vermont; and footwear by Bogs, New Balance, Choco and Vasque, the No. 1 selling hiking boot.



Great mentors

Jones said she spent some time working under the Matters before she and her husband actually purchased the store.

"Peg has such a great eye for picking out quality and what people are going to like. She's been a great help and continues to be actively involved," said Jones.

Jones also credited Gail Bolson Magnuson of Agora Arts, where Jones worked for eight years.

"I feel fortunate to have learned from Gail, who does a fantastic job at everything retail. Having worked for her was what gave me the guts to do it (buy the Hatchery), because she was such a great mentor. Both Gail and Peg are awesome ladies," she said.

She said while Steve continues to help with the chickens, Peg will continue to help with ordering.

"They have both done a fantastic job of easing the transition," she said.



Come on in

The Decorah Hatchery is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays until Christmas.

For more information, call 382-4103 or visit www.decorahhatchery.com.