Friday, March 13, 2009

I Love Farm Stores

Our local Runnings store moved to a larger location this week.  It was the place to be in town.  Many people were checking out the newer and improved version of their favorite farm store.  I needed to purchase tomato seeds to start indoors, and couldn't resist seeing Runnings Farm and Fleet for myself.

There is something about shopping at a farm store.  First of all, it reminds me of where I grew up.  Everyone I knew was a farmer.  I feel nostalgic the minute I enter Runnings.  Everyone there is friendly.  People don't put on airs or pretend to be someone they are not at a farm store.  Everyone can find something in common with other customers.  Interesting people are all around and best of all, strangers strike up conversations with you no matter which section of the store you are in. 

I have been in the bolt section looking perplexed when a man came to my rescue, "Do you know what you are looking for?  Let me help you out."  I have been contemplating chicken feed when a grandfatherly figure approached and gave me a lesson.  I have been seen looking at Carhartt clothing when someone I have never met informed me about the quality of Carhartt. 

The first interesting couple I saw yesterday was in the snack aisle.  They looked to be in their eighties, and the husband sat at a nearby picnic table waiting for his wife to make her selections.  "These cookies are a good price, aren't they?"  I agreed with her.  Then she noticed my shopping basket and decided she needed one too.  Off she went in search of a basket...leaving her husband to watch me do my shopping.  Minutes later she came back pushing a cart.  She told her husband, "I couldn't find a basket."  Her husband pointed to me and said, "She found one."  The woman looked at me, raised an eyebrow, then said to him, "Well, I couldn't find one.  Push this.  Let's go."  He immediately followed. 

As I headed toward the garden seeds, I couldn't help but wonder how The King and I would be at that age.  I'd probably be bossing him around a farm store too.  And he'd probably point out to me some younger woman who had no problem finding the shopping baskets when I couldn't.  

I didn't have long to ponder my old age because a man, who was a few years older than me,  noticed I was purchasing tomato seeds.  He told me, "I never have good luck with growing my own.  Do yours survive when you plant them outdoors?"  I told him we didn't have problems.  "Oh, I wonder what I am doing wrong."  After a long discussion, I was finally able to diagnose his problem.  He had never hardened the plants off before planting them outside.  Ah, a light bulb went off and he thanked me over and over.  I was a little surprised I could help him out with my meager amount of gardening knowledge, but happy to know that one more garden in the area may survive due to a little problem solving conversation at the seed display in Runnings.

Then while walking through the store, another man carrying a big bag of dog food, noticed my shopping basket of seeds.  "It looks like someone is planning for spring."  This turned into a conversation of how cold this week has been, how nice it is going to be, and how we will all be thinking about gardens next week at this time.

Leaving the store I thought about how many times I shop for groceries or clothing and never have conversations with other customers.  It's just not the same.  People don't look in my cart at what I am purchasing.  They don't care.  Or they don't dare.  "Oh, I see you buy 100% cotton you launder them in a special way?  Mine always seem to lose their shape."  Or, "I see you are buying macaroni noodles, tomatoes and hamburger...looks like someone must be having goulash for supper."  

No, I don't think those conversations will be had at the other places I shop.  They are treasured conversations one can only find at a farm store.  If you are ever feeling lonely, or just need some adult interaction, I suggest checking out your local farm store.  Maybe I'll see you there!


  1. Funny....I just went to Runnings yesterday and had a conversation with a guy about chickens! They just got their baby chicks in.

    Have you tried the carmel corn things in the shape of a corn cob....awesome!

    My "good" winter coat also came from there...Berne women do Columbia or somthing furry, I do Berne Apparel!

  2. Wonderful post, yes I have also noticed that people are more approachable in our local Farm Fleet Store. Hey you helped a tomato plant grow..good job!:)

  3. How do you harden tomato plants? I always buy mine already growing and don't have the best luck with them!

  4. I enjoyed reading this - don't think I've ever been to a farm store, but it made me think of my childhood in a small town.

    The "she found one" comment cracked me up!! :)

  5. Jeff, Davis and I checked out Runnings a few weeks ago. WE LOVED IT!! They just have so much stuff...we looked around in there for hours!

  6. The panties comment cracked me up. You are so right though. Everytime I go to Runnings I have conversations like yours.

    Goulash? That is such a rural sounding dish! :-)

  7. My neighbor Sarah comes from a farm family and shared a real funny story about Runnings.
    After attending Church on Sunday, the Smith family would go to Runnings for a family outing after looking at farm supply's the Smith's entered the checkout line, grandma Smith said, "oh look beef stick 3 for a dollar, what a great price." so she handed out the beef sticks to all the Smiths. Everyone was eating their beef stick grandma reached in her purse to pay for the taste treat, farmer Steve looks down at the can for a second glance because he couldn't believe those delicious sticks costed only one dollar for three.
    Farmer Steve read the can, Beef Sticks $1.00 for 3 dog treat
    everyone was gagging and laughing, grandma just said they are taste


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