The fact that it is easy walking distance from my mother’s house may partially explain the attraction, plus I grew up in small town America with a mother from a farm background. However, my mother lived on a farm during the Depression so her stories were of hunger and hardship, instead of the beauty of the hills surrounding their small farm.
|(Wythe County, Virginia farm)|
I’m immediately attracted to the small plastic farm animals that are usually located near the entrance inside the TSC stores. Made by Schleich, a German company, the animals are so realistic, sturdy and well-made. It’s all I can do not to buy some. Analyzing my impulse, I remember as children, my sisters, and I collected small plastic animals that we would buy with our allowances from the local five and dime store. We would play with our little figures in the backyard, digging in the dirt, creating mini-universes. I can imagine children today could have fun with the TSC farm animals, especially if you add a miniature John Deere tractor.
|(Goat by Schleich toy manufacturer)|
I head next toward the rows of rubber rain boots in green, yellow, red, and more designs than a person can remember--boots with pink and purple flowers, black and white polka dots, multi-colored stripes, and movie figure motifs. Foregoing fashion, a true farmer can buy the ever practical, heavy-duty plain rain boot in black. I usually try on boots but never find any that are fit well and are comfortable. I’ll have to be satisfied with the small red pair of child’s rain boots that I purchased at a yard sale several years ago. I display them in my garden shed and use them to hold some of my gardening tools.
I always include the magazine and card kiosk in my store visit. I look through all the rural-themed cards to see if any are appropriate for someone I know. If my timing is right, I buy Christmas cards there at the after Christmas sale to send the next Christmas—cards featuring pictures of barns with wreaths, farm dogs and barn cats or horses in the snow.I look at each magazine and manual in their display, from Mary Jane’s Farm, Grit magazine (descended from the Grit newspaper young boys would hawk to my father and uncles in my family’s downtown furniture store when I was a child) and Organic Gardening to the more-western themed American Cowboy, Cowboys and Indians, and American Quarter Horse Journal. I usually end up buying a couple magazines because I can’t help myself. I know my local book store in Shreveport probably carries some of the same magazines, but it’s not the same.
I always examine the manuals on raising chickens or bee keeping, and other bucolic occupations, that I have zero intention of ever doing. The last time I was in a Tractor Supply store, the center of the store was filled with troughs of baby chicks. I spent ten minutes studying them to see which I would prefer, strictly from an aesthetic sense. It was like attending a chick beauty contest.
I also like other unusual products I see on the shelves. The stores stock pet items, lawn and garden products, animal feed, horse supplies, welding materials, and a plethora of other goods.
I decided to learn more about these stores since I’m such a fan. I read that the Tractor Supply Company was founded in Minot, North Dakota, in 1938 as a mail order company selling tractor parts. I lived in South Dakota for a couple of years, so maybe living next to ranchers rubbed off on me.
Today Tractor Supply Company is the largest retail farm and ranch store in the United States. They are headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, outside of Nashville. I attended graduate school at the University of Tennessee and lived in east Tennessee for 7 years. Maybe that Tennessee country vibe seeped into my blood.
Tractor Supply Company now has over 1,085 stores in 44 states. I did find myself wishing I had bought stock in the company when I found out that Fortune magazine named Tractor Supply to its list of the 100 fastest growing businesses in 2004.
I can’t really explain my love for the store, but if I need an adult field trip when I’m in my hometown, Tractor Supply Store is where you’ll find me.