|Not yet open for business, but soon the Orschelns in Garnett, KS will be fully functional|
We recently moved to the county I grew up in - a county in which the largest town has 3,300 people and the nearest Wal-Mart is 25 miles away. Since we live in rural paradise, most of our shopping occurs in this town, which is the county seat. There are not a lot of large chain businesses around us; there is a chain grocery store (Country Mart) and a handful of fast food restaurants -- that's about it for "Big Biz."
For example, here's a sampling of the locally owned businesses in the town. Small businesses account for probably 80-90% of the town's economy:
- 4-5 beauty salons
- 4 insurance companies (2 chain; 2 local)
- A bar/grill
- A Mexican restaurant (which changes hands every few years)
- 2 auto parts stores
- Furniture store
- 2 hardware stores
- Car dealership
- Feed/livestock supply store
- 2 liquor stores
- 2 women's clothing/gift shops
- 2 floral shops
Most of these businesses have been around since I was in elementary school and there is a delicate balance of shopping local vs. occasionally traveling to "the city" (aka KC Metro) for big purchases like electronics, TVs or other specialty items. The Ninja and I shop local because as part of the community we recognize we need to support our fellow rural dwellers or our county seat may fail to thrive.
You see, we used to have an Alco but it recently went out of business and the building was purchased by Orschelns. Yes! Orschelns is coming to Garnett, KS. Most people see this as an step up in rural life, myself included. The ability to purchase fence posts, baby chicks in the spring (!!!) and have an expanded selection of ranch supplies is invaluable. However, another part of me is pained because I know that "Big Biz" is going to take business away from the hardware stores and maybe some from the feed supply business. In all honesty, Orschelns is likely going to put one of the hardware stores out of business.
And that sucks.
It sucks because a business that's been around for more than a decade will likely be shuttered. It sucks because a little piece of the community will break. It sucks that convenience and affordability come at the expense of empty aisles and a "going out of business" sign.
I'm not a fortune teller - I'm not positive that one of the hardware stores will close. I'm pretty sure the feed/livestock supply store will be fine because they deal with a lot of products that Orschelns doesn't carry plus they have a very loyal customer base. But this situation is always going to be a challenge for those of us in rural communities. Shop local is a movement that is alive and well, and for good reason. But when does it become acceptable to save money and shop at Big Biz? What is the percentage of savings that must occur in order for the stigma of shopping at Big Biz to dissipate? I'm predicting that judgment will be cast on those Orschelns patrons who will "abandon" the local hardware stores.
I don't know the answer, but I am guessing I'll know it within a few years. So, readers, how would you deal with this situation? Do you continue to frequent the small hardware stores? Do you run to Orschelns for the things that they offer exclusively? Do you alternate?
How would you handle this retail change up if you lived in rural southeast Kansas?
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
Labels: big ag, Big Biz, Big Business, farms, Kansas, Orschelns, Orschelns Farm and Home, ranchers, rural, shop local, small farms, small town