Hemelt: LaPlace Feed & Supply family giving back to community

Published 12:02 am Saturday, May 21, 2016

As a youth, Steve Finckbeiner’s trips to the St. John the Baptist Parish library were very important.

Steve’s parents owned and operated LaPlace Feed & Supply. Whenever he or his siblings wanted a new animal at the feed store, they had to go to the library, read all of the books on the desired animal and then demonstrate to their parents that they knew “everything there was to know” before getting the new animal at the store.

“That’s part of the reason why I went into biology for school,” Steve told me this week. “It’s because I had to read all the books for animals that the St. John Parish library had.”

As many know, Steve’s family was thrust into the spotlight in February of 2014 when two men robbed the store of its cash register, killing the store’s patriarch and co-owner, Steve Finckbeiner, and shot his wife and partner, Connie.

The younger Steve — who shares a first name but not a middle name with his father — said the family, which includes siblings Kristin, Danny and Kati, considered closing the store following the tragedy.

However, more than 100 people gathered for a vigil in honor of the Finckbeiners, which was organized by the Rev. Donald August and Rising Star Baptist Church. Seeing the turnout and support just days later, Steve said, convinced the family the store needed to remain open. It’s a decision no one regrets.

The store remains everything to the Finckbeiner family, who personify “the family business” mantra.

“The store is what we did as a family growing up,” Steve said. “The idea of the store was my parents being able to work together and being able to see us everyday. They would work for themselves. They loved animals; we loved animals. My dad always described it as a hobby that got out of control.

“That’s what it was in the beginning, and then it became our culture. We’ve had some of the same customers since the beginning. A lot of these people have gone to our weddings. It’s a lot more than a store. It is our family.”

Connie said she is proud to see her children working to bring the store and feeling around it back to the way it was when they were children and “everybody was happy,” acknowledging it’s been a rough few years.

“My kids have been here since their father was murdered,” she said. “My son-in-law has helped me keep the store open. Steve is now back home. They are doing this because it’s just the way we raised them. We have given to the community and the community has given to us. We’re not going to stop giving.”

That community spirit is what’s behind a LaPlace Feed & Supply’s fundraiser scheduled for June 4.

The beneficiary is going to be the very place the Finckbeiners encouraged their children to be active education participants — St. John the Baptist Parish library.

LaPlace Feed & Supply is auctioning 18 broiler chickens, with all the proceeds going to the library.

The event is going to take place right after closing at approximately 2 p.m.

Preparations are just beginning, and those wishing to partner are encouraged to do so.

“If they want to donate money for the fundraiser, itself, without actually participating in the auction, that is OK too,” Steve said. “We already have a bunch of people who want to do that. If they want to help us get set up or if they have tables or a tent to loan, that would be great. We need all the help we can get. Call the store or come in. Coming in is actually better because we can talk and you can see the chickens.”

LaPlace Feed & Supply is located at 116 Sleepy Redwood St. in LaPlace. Call 985-651-9700 for more information.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.