The recent closure of Sidney’s two Shopko locations has left many customers scrambling to find various goods at the local level. As shopping small becomes more important to rural communities, area businesses are stepping up to the plate and going to bat for the local economy.
Johnson Hardware and Furniture is expanding several areas of their inventory after customers grew increasingly concerned with local options.
“We have so many people coming in asking, ‘Where can I find this or that?’ If we don’t have it and we can’t get it, we try to tell people where to go,” said Bernadette Barbula with Johnson’s.
They increased their inventory on bed linens, pillows, comforters, sheets, mattress protectors and bathroom accessories like shower curtains, toilet brush holders, small trash cans and mirrors. They’ve also added to their housewares, dinnerware, flatware, beverage ware and small appliance offerings.
“We are the only place in town you can get a vacuum cleaner,” Barbula said. “We want to keep our customers happy. We try to keep our prices reasonable. If we can’t help them, we’ll do our best to find what they need.”
Johnson Hardware has been in business for 104 years — it’s safe to say they’ve seen their fair share of businesses come and go in Sidney. Phil Johnson said there’s a reason they’re still here.
“You have to be flexible. You don’t last 104 years in a small town without diversifying and evolving over time,” he said. “Over the years we’ve changed our product lines significantly. We’re glad to be able to provide as many things as we can locally so people don’t have to leave town to find what they need.”
Reynolds Market has been discussing inventory changes as well, manager Loren Kutzler said. As of right now, there isn’t a lot of change, but they are listening for suggestions.
“We want to listen to what our customers need,” Kutzler said.
They increased inventory of some smaller kitchen appliances, like coffee makers and can openers. They’ve also added waste baskets and more paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels and paper plates.
“We noticed right away we were running out on the weekends, so we brought in extra,” Kutzler said.
Reynolds has reached out to the Sidney Chamber of Commerce for a more official customer survey, something the chamber said they are currently working on.
“It’s not about making a bigger profit,” Kutzler said. “We want to serve the community and give them less reason to go out of town and do their shopping.”
High Caliber Sports is planning to expand many sections of their store, including socks, underwear, shoes, apparel and camping equipment. Owner Sherry Hecker said it’s about hometown spirit.
“More people are shopping online, but those online businesses aren’t sponsoring baseball or running ads in the local paper,” she said. For them, it’s about giving back community support as much as they receive it.
Western Choice Cooperative has started a list of items customers have requested and will try to supply what they can. Their upcoming remodel will already change the offerings in the store and they hope to help fill in some gaps on the local level.
Reese and Rays IGA said while they are still in talks about inventory expansion, they are considering carrying towels, garbage cans and small appliances like toasters. They have received requests to expand their first aid offerings, with more vitamins and certain aspirin brands. IGA said they will be expanding their dollar section offerings too.