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The Boss takes charge
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A trail ride needs a trail boss, and who could be better for the job than someone named Susan Boss?

She’s the co-owner with her husband, Ken, and brother-in-law Michael of Boss Brothers Country Store in Loganville. She’s also the organizer of a trail ride for equine enthusiasts and other events in October that raised money and awareness of breast cancer.

The event raised $13,250 that will be presented on Monday to Emory Healthcare’s Winship Cancer Center’s breast cancer research program in Atlanta. Donations are down to charities across the nation, but the drive nearly matched its goal.

"We were pleasantly surprised," Boss said.

Winship was the perfect recipient.

"I wanted the money to stay in Georgia, and all of it to go to cancer research, Boss said.

The main event for the fundraiser was a trail ride held Oct. 2 at Peters Creek Farm in Social Circle. There were 97 riders and about 197 overall participated in the fundraiser, which included dinner and entertainment.

The theme of the ride and campaign was "Be the Boss of you." Boss noted that equine enthusiasts and the women who are regular customers at the family business frequently put their family and others ahead of caring for themselves. The campaign was designed to help them focus on their own health.

"Be the boss of yourself encourages women to take care of themselves so they can take care of others," she said.

The campaign was a complete awareness-raising event that also included mammogram screenings. It was a way to mark a decade in business and to give back to the community, Boss said.

The family store had its origins with a feed and seed and fertilizer store that Michael Boss opened in 1987. They expanded into a Purina concept store in 1998.

Boss and Anita Hood of Purina worked together to create a national campaign too, in which Purina created Pink 50, bags of animal feed that featured a pink ribbon to represent breast cancer awareness. A portion of sales from each bag went to cancer research, and the trail ride was part of the campaign.

The Boss brothers are from an agricultural family that goes back six generations on the farm, and had run a dairy in Walton County before opening their retail operations.

Going into retail made sense as the farmland around Loganville turned into suburbs. It got to the point where it was hard to move around on the once-rural roads with large farm equipment, Boss said.

"It kind of squeezed us off the farm and into retail," Boss said.

The long hours of working at the store prevents the Bosses from having large menageries of their own. Ken does raise beef cattle and they also have a henhouse and two dogs, but Susan Boss said working with her customers allows her to live a bit vicariously.

"I feel that I get to share in a part of my customer’s animals lives as well," she said in an e-mail.

The family also does its best to educate the suburbanites moving to a rural area about agriculture.

"We are getting to the point of two-three generations removed from the farm and it’s really sad to have children come into the store and not know where their food actually comes from," Boss said by e-mail.

Boss, a Newton County native, also came from an agricultural background. Her grandfather Lee Hays owned Hays Tractor and Equipment in Mansfield. Her father, Lamar, later took control of the business and Boss worked with her father there.

She still loves the land and the lifestyle to be found in the rural area where she grew up.

"I’ve been here 20 years, but Newton County feels like home," she said.