Make us your home page
Instagram

Farm store chain Rural King to open in Spring Hill

SPRING HILL — A 439,000-square-foot former big-box store — a black hole for 10 years in a thriving retail area along U.S. 19 — has found a new tenant.

Come fall, Rural King, which bills itself as "America's Farm and Home Store," will move into the former Kmart store near Timber Pines, just north of Spring Hill Drive.

Founded in 1960 in Mattoon, Ill., and now with 60 stores in seven states, Rural King is introducing itself to Florida, and it's chosen Spring Hill as its first location.

"We're the hobby farmer. We're a farm store on steroids," said company president Alex Melvin. "We have two to four times more goods than a tractor store."

Indeed, the company's website and online catalog lists 14 product categories, ranging from domestics and home improvement to clothing and sporting goods, as well as agricultural.

"We're a family-owned company, not a big-box store," Melvin said.

Melvin said he has visited Hernando County "several times."

"I think there's more farms than you think," he said. "Within a 20-mile radius, you've got four farm stores."

(According to the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Service, there are 768 farms in Hernando that produce $1,000 or more of agricultural products per year.)

Melvin was aware that Hernando County commissioners are considering an ordinance to allow backyard chickens in Spring Hill.

"We sell baby chicks," he said. "We sell rabbits."

Also, "we sell a lot of bird seed, every specialty cat and dog food that they sell in the big pet stores."

Speaking about other product lines, Melvin said: "Our customers are people who want to take care of their cars; we have the best battery price around. … Work clothes, basically we have a mix for male and female, ladies' boots, anything workwear related. … Gardening, as big a garden shop as the big-box stores."

Rural King's website says the company prides itself on low prices "along with being the industry leader in product knowledge and customer service."

The company plans to open the doors of its $1.6 million acquisition in Spring Hill by Sept. 1.

"It needs a lot of remodeling," Melvin acknowledged. "It's going to need a pretty big facelift."

All the construction will be done by Florida companies.

"We always try to hire as much local contracting as possible," Melvin said.

The company will hire 20 to 30 full-time employees and a like number of part-timers. Hiring is expected to take place "three to four weeks before we start putting shelving in the store," he said.

While the company trains its employees, Melvin said applicants should have a general knowledge of the product field in which they want to work.

The store manager already has been designated, a regional manager who has been with the company for 17 years. At least three or four assistant managers will be hired from the pool of local applicants, Melvin said.

Aiming to make Rural King a good neighbor, Melvin said the company is working with the Hernando County Farmers Market to keep the market in place in the store's parking lot on Saturdays, but perhaps in a limited space.

"Their customers are our customers," Melvin said.

Rural King currently operates in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri, where some of the sites host farmers markets.

As for the company's venture into Spring Hill, "We liked the market," Melvin said. "It kind of helps when there's an empty building … at a price that works for us."

Beth Gray can be contacted at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Farm store chain Rural King to open in Spring Hill 02/23/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 23, 2013 10:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump shuts down CEO advisory councils as main group acts to disband

    Business

    President Donald Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, "rather than …

    President Donald Trump meets with Merck's chief executive, Kenneth Frazier, second from left, and other leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in the Roosevelt Room of the White House last January. On Wednesday, Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.
[New York Times file photo]
  2. A long-awaited vision for Tampa's Westshore Marina District

    Real Estate

    TAMPA —Eleven years after plans to develop a waterfront tract on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge were first announced, a new rendering gives a hint of what Westshore Marina District ultimately will look like.

    Rendering of Marina Pointe, a condo project overlooking Tampa Bay as part of the Westshore Marina District. [Courtesy of Masterfile Corp.}
  3. Buddy Brew Coffee to open downtown Tampa location

    Business

    TAMPA — Buddy Brew Coffee plans to open a new location in downtown Tampa at Park Tower in early 2018. The specialty coffee craft roaster, which was founded in 2010, has five other locations throughout Tampa including the Oxford Exchange, Sarasota, Hyde Park Village and Terminal F inside the Tampa International …

    A cappuccino is displayed at Buddy Brew in Tampa in January 2017. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.
  5. The Penny Hoarder tops 79 fastest growing Tampa Bay companies on Inc. 5000

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Penny Hoarder on Wednesday further cemented its reputation as one of the country's fastest growing companies. The personal finance web site business ranks 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing businesses.

    Vishal Mahtani (left), vice president of business development, Alexis Grant (center), executive editor, and Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, celebrate the news with their staff  Wednesday of making the new Inc. 5000 ranking of fastest growing companies in the country. They enjoyed champagne during a catered lunch at their office in downtown St. Petersburg after ranking 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the just released 2017 Inc. 5000. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times ]