Tri-County staple gets new ownership and new name as Azar, Claiborne take over community feed store
ALPINE - An institution in Alpine for 43 years, Johnson Feed grew from some hay bales and bags of feed sold out of the bed of George and Sally Johnson’s pickup and garage, to a place of neighborly connection, the local Kubota dealer and the area’s only western wear outlet.
The dream set out for by the Johnson’s in 1976 will for continue for years to come, but as of August 1 it will continue under the guidance of new owners Kim Azar and Justin Claiborne, and a new name in Out West Feed and Supply. George and Sally met while both were students at Sul Ross University in the mid-seventies and together built Johnson Feed and Western Wear from a vision and some hay bales to a Big Bend staple and one of the largest supporters of youth in agriculture the area has ever seen. The new owners, Azar and Claiborne, don’t see any changes where that is concerned.
As owner’s of local businesses, Out West Disposal and Out West Fencing, they understand the area and how businesses like Johnson’s have become so successful. “George and Sally built something really special here,” said Azar. “We look to build on what was done here for 43 years, but in many ways stay the same in what we do as Out West and what we offer.” Azar and Claiborne came to the Big Bend almost four years ago from San Antonio and San Angelo respectively. Claiborne having cowboyed throughout west Texas. According to Azar, the couple met, feel in love with each other and the area. They both say that the day to day operations of Out West Feed and Supply will remain mostly the same. The couple will retain a dealership license for Kubota equipment, an offering the Johnson’s originally set up in 2004.
In addition, Out West will continue to offer a wide variety of western wear, boots and accessories, while expanding those endeavors rolling out a wider array of products and brands. “The fact that community members have a place to get what they need, but also a place to see a friend or a smiling face was important to us when we decided to purchase the business from George and Sally,” said Azar. Azar and Claiborne realize the changing landscape of places like Alpine and the tri-county area. They know the growing trend of large box stores entering into rural America, but also understand the extremely important role a local business has in a community and the area.
“Out West will continue to take your Kubota equipment to maintain and repair, but we also plan on fi xing your lawn mower or weed eater if it needs fi xing. We will continue to offer service that you just can’t get at other places,” Azar added. While Azar and Claiborne set out to continue on the foundation laid by the Johnson Family, they also see Out West’s importance of community involvement.
For 43 years, George and Sally Johnson were avid supporters of the local communities of the Big Bend, each year lending their time or monetary donations to local school districts, Sul Ross University and many community groups near and far. The same will be true under the new ownership, according to Azar. “
We know what an amazing place we live in,” she said. “We plan to not only be a one stop shop for feed and western wear, but look forward to partnering with all of the Big Bend in support of everything that goes on with our youth, area groups and community events.” As the Johnson’s are seemingly riding off into the proverbial Big Bend sunset, their stamp on the area will continue through new ownership. “This is home,” Justin Claiborne said. “We plan to be here for many years to come and plan to give the Big Bend area the same service and experience they have come to love under the Johnson’s for the past 43 years.” Out West Feed & Supply will remain located at 2600 E U.S. 90 in Alpine.