The store’s logo was inspired by the dragonfly tattoo on Zook’s back and designed by artist Vicki Kahle, who lives in the Fernwood area.
FBI Agent. It had been Lindsay Zooks dream since fourth grade and she knew what she had to do to achieve it.
She graduated from UC Santa Barbara where she studied Law and Society with an emphasis in Criminal Justice, then applied and was accepted into the Los Angeles Police Academy. Shed have to work as a cop for five years before applying to become an agent.
She was on her way. That is, until she wasnt. In November 1999, her Uncle Michael, who was like a father figure to her, died from a brain tumor at the age of 39. That same night she got lost driving in one of the worst parts of downtown LA.
Lindsay imagined herself as a cop, becoming enmeshed in this gritty world. Everything changed. She no longer wanted to fight crime; she wanted to spend her life appreciating the good.
She applied to become a U.S. Park Ranger, underwent a routine physical, but was disqualified when tests revealed an undiagnosed medical condition.
Twenty-three years old, heartbroken from the loss of her uncle, and insecure about a future she could no longer envision, Lindsay lightened her mood by hanging around a pet store. She was soon offered a temporary three-month position as a manager. Seven years later, she was still there.
When a new opportunity arose, Lindsay began to contemplate her future again. Topanga Auto, next to Bouboulina, on the Boulevard, was closing after 26 years serving the Canyon. The space was available to rent.
Lindsay said, I dont even know if it was a thought in the back of my head, but when the opportunity presented itself, I said I think I could do that.
Lindsay Zook hands a receipt to Elena Roche, who just purchased chicken feed and a dog bone to her 18-month old son Jack. She’s not confused, she’s multitasking! Bones make great toys, too.
After hours of talk with two close friends and her mother, Lisa, a familiar face to customers at Topanga Homegrown, Lindsay decided to become a pet store an owner.
On May 26, 2005, Topanga Seed & Feed opened its doors with Carlos, the white horse statue, staying on to greet customers as he had for many years for Topanga Auto.
Lindsay said, from the first month that we opened, customers were here.
With little to no investment in marketing or advertising, a steady stream of people came in need of food and supplies for their dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, horses, rabbits, guinea pigs and, even, for their flamingos.
A full 50 percent of sales comes from pet/animal food. The other 50 percent comes from pet/animal supplies, garden supplies, gifts and decorations.
Over the next four years, Topanga Seed and Feed grew at a healthy pace. Inventory costs were at about $150,000 a year with enough profit for Lindsay to buy out her business partner after a year and a half and to take home a regular paycheck.
All that changed when construction began on the library.
I could sit on my chair outside and just watch people drive by. They couldnt get in the driveway, Lindsay said.
She filed claims for lost business to Los Angeles County, but to no avail. Lindsay turned to her customers to keep the doors open.
In November 2011, the Topanga Messenger printed Lindsays Letter to the Editor asking for the communitys help. The letter worked. Word spread. An influx of returning and new customers changed a downward spiral into an upward swing that has continued to the present.
Feed and Seed is a pet supply store, garden center, gift shop and playground for owner Lindsay Zook’s 18-month-old son, Jack.
This year is better than last year, she said. Last year was really bad. [My customers] have come back. And I just need to keep reminding them.
A good thing that came out of the road construction was that Lindsay met her husband, Paul Pedroza. Stuck in the construction traffic, he turned around, but decided first to come into the shop to meet the girl that friends had been telling him about.
He told her he was going to get a puppy. She helped him spend $150 in preparation for the white Labrador and agreed to go on a date.
The couple was married on Halloween in 2009 at the Community House. They welcomed son, Jack, 18 months ago. Hes a regular fixture at the store, where his crib, basketball net and plenty of friendly people keep him in smiles, including his grandmother, Lisa. You can see her pushing her grandson in his stroller across the Pine Tree Circle parking lot.
It makes Lindsay happy that her mother calls her a stay-at-home merchant.
It definitely brings excitement every day to bring him, Lindsay said. Not only does he get customers who come in and say Hi Jack, having him here makes it more family friendly for the person who comes in. They go hey wait, this isnt just a store, its a family that we have to go visit.
She said, I have fun every day.
Its a far cry from criminal justice, but she cant imagine being anywhere else.