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Southern States closes retail side of business

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Ag. services side still operating

By Cameron Koch

One of Shelby County’s long-standing farm supplies store closed its doors Saturday.

The retail side of Southern States Cooperative, which sells farming, and home supplies, feed, and other items, will no longer be available at the store located downtown on 7th Street said Bob Parker, the store manager. The agricultural service side of the business, which provides fertilizer, seed, and chemicals, will still continue to operate. Certain stores in other surrounding counties will also be shutting down. The Southern States retail store in LaGrange will be closing down, as will the one in Warsaw, located in Gallatin County, he said. The store in Eminence will stay open to serve the area.

Ray Tucker, who serves on the stores advisory board, said even though the supplies will no longer be provided in Shelbyville, the items can still be purchased at the store in Eminence, or have the items shipped to the Shelbyville store from surrounding stores, he said.

The previously locally owned and operated store voted to go out of business and joined the larger regional Southern States Cooperative in 2008 in an effort to remain competitive.

This decision to close the retail store didn’t come from the local advisory commission of which Tucker is a part of, but from the Southern States Cooperative headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. Parker said he was informed of the decision on July 12. However, the choice was something the advisory board had discussed with Southern States in the past.

“We can’t compete, in that location…it’s down there in the hole, by the railroad tracks, it’s not in a good location,” Tucker said. “We can’t compete with Rural King and Tractor Supply, we just can’t compete with them in that location. If we had a big, nice new store and has 1,000 square feet of showroom, we probably could, because our prices are very comparable.”

Shelbyville’s store closing comes as Southern States Cooperative restructures its business, as it does every 4-5 years Tucker said. Southern States is closing about 2 percent of its 1,200 retail stores located in 17 states. New stores will be created in the near future, a press release from the company says.

“Me, personally as a Southern States customer, there will be some inconvenience,” Tucker said. “From a business standpoint…it’s the right thing to do for Southern States as a company. But you never know, during their next restructuring they may determine we need a store bigger than Rural King is,” Tucker said. “You never know with these kinds of things.”