Friday, June 04, 2010

TOP STORY > >Farm-supply store heading to Lonoke

Leader senior staff writer

Announcing its arrival with nothing more than a spray-painted name and address on the building, Atwoods Farm and Ranch has begun remaking the old Lonoke Walmart store in its own image, preparing to become one of the largest retailers in town.

A competitor of Tractor Supply Company, the Enid, Okla.-based Atwoods is 50 years old. Lonoke will be store 45.

“Atwoods has purchased the building and is opening a store there….around mid-October,” according to Pat Crossley, the advertising manager.

The store will employ about 20 people she said.

“We’re so tickled,” said chamber director John Garner.

When Lonoke representatives first contacted Atwoods a year ago at the suggestion of Alderman Michael Florence, they were told Lonoke was too small and the building was too small.

What changed?

“We opened a store in Kingfisher, Okla., in a very small building and it has done very well for us,” Crossley said Thursday. “We discovered that with a couple of adjustments to inventory levels, we can fit a smaller building.”

The population of Kingfisher at the 2000 census was 4,380.

According to 2005 estimates, Lonoke’s population is 4, 553.

Florence said he knew that Atwoods had moved into an abandoned Walmart at Crossett, which is why he made the suggestion.

“We like to relocate into old Walmart buildings,” Crossley said. “It fits our needs really well. It gets rid of vacant buildings and avoids the extreme expense of building.”

In some places, Atwoods goes head to head with TSC.

“We always try to be the price leader,” Crossley said. “Also we carry over 40,000 different items in our store.”

She said the store carries clothing for the entire family, including footwear, pet supplies, large animal feed and supplies, squeeze shoots, vaccines, auto supplies, batteries for tractors and lawn tractors.

They sell lawn tractors, lots of patio furniture, plants, power equipment, fertilizers and spreaders.

They sell chain saws, welding equipment, chop saws, old-fashioned snacks and carry Priefert and King Cutter bush hogs, box blades and disc harrows.

In addition to the Crossett store, Atwoods has stores in Arkadelphia, Clarksville, Fort Smith, Hope, Magnolia, Mena and Siloam Springs.

Wilbur and Fern Atwood, who in 1959 drove their old pickup truck from Minnesota through a blizzard and an ice storm before arriving in Enid on New Year’s Day, started Atwoods.