As a kindergarten assistant for Henderson County Schools for 11 years, Heather Lee found herself implementing information about wild backyard birds into the students’ education. A year ago, she and her husband Scott decided to educate the community fulltime on these winged creatures when they took over ownership of Wild Birds Unlimited.
“I would bring in my Birds & Blooms magazines for the kids, but there is so much they are required to learn that there isn’t time for that,” says Lee, who lives in Henderson, Kentucky. “Taking the store over was a way to turn a hobby into a job kind of thing, but not think of it as a job.”
Tim and Margi Griffith opened Wild Birds Unlimited, 5620 E. Virginia St., in October 2005 and owned it for 10 years before retiring to Wyoming. The previous owners pitched the idea to the Lees, who were customers, and the couple decided to make the jump.
“The similarities are the education part of it,” says Lee. “So much of this business is the education on the different birds, their food preferences, their behaviors; there is a ton for me still to learn.”
The Evansville Wild Birds Unlimited is one of more than 300 stores around the U.S. and Canada. The supply store carries bird feeders, seed, houses, baths, binoculars, cylinders, and gift items such as wind chimes, walking sticks, yard flags, earrings, greeting cards, and more. A large majority of their products are made in the U.S. and the seed is fresh, brought in weekly or sometimes twice a week. In addition to its high-quality products, the store’s niche is in the education.
“Any store can sell bird seed and feeders, but we try to help customers attract the birds they want to see,” says Kim Flagg, who is the assistant manager and has been with the store for nearly 11 years.
Wild Birds Unlimited employees receive training through the company, and assist customers with identifying birds and understanding migration patterns. The store continuously plays a live camera of a feeder or nest and stores field guides under the counter for quick reference. Lee welcomes all levels of interest and knowledge to the store.
“If you can get birds to nest in your yard, then they will have their babies there and keep coming back year after year,” says Lee. “It is about creating that atmosphere and that habitat for them.”
For more information about Wild Birds Unlimited, call 812-476-2473 or visit wbu.com/evansville.