When Big Business Comes to Rural America

Orscheln's Coming to Garnett, KS
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.

Enter, Orschelns.

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 ~




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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When Big Business Comes to Rural America

Orscheln's Coming to Garnett, KS
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.

Enter, Orschelns.

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: , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments:

Blogger fred said...

That's a lot of businesses for a town that size. The older businesses might do ok. They should be friends with lots of people. They'll need to work on having the personal touch to keep people coming. They'll also need competitive pricing. There's an Orscheln 30 miles from me. I get some things there. I'm picky about what my horses eat and would never get their feed there, guess I'm picky about the dogs and cows too. Not so much cats so they get Orscheln food.

October 7, 2015 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger Brandi Buzzard Frobose said...

Yes, it does seem like a lot of businesses for a small town, which obviously has be concerned for some of them. I think that one of the small stores will survive but not sure about the second. Thanks for reading!!

October 28, 2015 at 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would contend that Fred needs to read the labels! Orscheln feed products are marketed with all in mind. If he wants a quality feed product it is available as well as lower quality for the price conscious shopper. Often, the consumer who pays a little more will be ahead in the long haul based upon consumption. I believe Nutrena manufactures most of the private label feeds for Orschelns ( read the labels, good, best ) who also carry the Nutrena branded products.

January 16, 2016 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger Brandi Buzzard Frobose said...

Yes Orscheln's sells Nutrena products. No Purina to be found - good thing the other feed store sells Purina products!

February 8, 2016 at 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Anonymous needs to learn what quality feed is. Because orschlen's doesn't sell it. If you want quality feed in Garnett Brummel's is the only place to get it. And as far as it being good for are at and ranch community they don't have much to offer other than low quality feed. And they don't carry much of any thing else worth a darn. I don't think they will put anybody out of business. How can they carry much in there store when it there building is less than half the size of the ones in iola and Ottawa and the two stores don't much in them worth a darn.

March 11, 2016 at 3:39 PM  

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