The Work We Do: Bill Van Schaick, Talmage Farm Agway

I’m Bill Van Schaick. I’m the general manager here at Talmage Farm Agway here in Riverhead. I’ve been here since May 2000.

Prior to this, I was the store manager for Agway Incorporated at the Bridgehampton Agway, and also managed the Agway in Southold for a number of years, so I have some background and experience.

My job is kind of like a cruise ship captain. The captain is not doing every task … what he’s doing is taking a bunch of like-minded people and he’s giving them the best experience he can by using the people, the tools, everything at his disposal and communicating and coordinating all of that. That’s basically what I do here. I do a lot of the buy-in for the store. I do most of the marketing and advertising and keep that communication open.

One thing that we do is offer special orders. If it’s something that in any way, shape or form I can get, I do. And we’re always willing to add new products. We added cheese-making supplies in the last couple of months. It’s not a big thing yet, but it’s growing and we’re selling more and more.

Our customers are basically interested in what we call a “backyard country lifestyle.” They want to feed the birds, they love their pet, they want to have fresh eggs, they want the greenest lawn, they want to brew beer from home. It’s all about the wants. Thankfully, we’re in this lucky position where we can help supply all these different things to people.

These people work Monday through Friday, they’re connected all the time, and here’s their chance to step back a little bit … not just sit in front of a digital screen. It all kind of blossomed from there. What we’ve done is we’ve helped disconnect people, digital people that have grown up behind these screens. We’ve shut this off, we’ve turned off the smartphone, and we’ve gotten people to actually live. They’re actually smelling the fresh-cut grass. They’re seeing a ladybug. They’re experiencing life the way we did 100 years ago.

“The Work We Do” is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers around Riverhead Town. It is made possible by Peconic Landing in Greenport. See more photos on Instagram @riverheadnewsreview