Leavenworth couple jump at chance to expand animal feed, supply business into Tonganoxie
Karma sometimes calls for quick action.
Shirley Brown said she and her husband, Don, had been looking to add a Tonganoxie store to join their Kansas Country Store in Leavenworth. The quest, which had involved extensive talks on another site, ended with a phone call informing the couple the old Dressler’s site at 1203 E. Highway 24-40 might be available.
“It was like karma or a gift from God,” Shirley said. “We got the phone call asking us if we’d like to walk through. We did the walk through, and it just felt right.
“All along, we’ve hoped for a second store down here. It just turned out the timing was right. The Tonganoxie community has been so welcoming. I felt at home the first day.”
The Browns bought the store July 2 after the viewing, spent the Fourth of July weekend cleaning and re-arranging and opened Kansas Country South on July 5.
It was a quick turnaround to fulfill a longtime goal of opening a store in a community that had supported Purina products in the past and in which the couple’s past activities made them many friends, Shirley said.
“We are extremely supportive of the fair and 4-H kids,” she said. “We help those kids with their 4-H and FFA projects and had a booth at the fair.”
The Browns opened their Leavenworth store 11 years ago at 728 Cherokee and have grown the store from 1,000 to 10,000 square feet in that time.
“We love it,” Shirley said of the business. “We love the idea of serving the needs of our customers.
“Customer service in our No. 1 priority, which I believe in a struggling economy makes the difference.”
As they transition into the Tonganoxie store, the couple will train the staff here in the same level of customer service provided in Leavenworth as she and Don alternate days at the two stores, Shirley said.
Customers can also expect to see a growing product line of the Purina, Nutrena and ADM livestock, equine and pet feeds and supplies on the 12,000-square-foot store’s shelves, Shirley said.
“We fully understand we’re understocked and there’s changes to go through,” she said. “But we grew our Leavenworth store from 1,000 to 10,000 square feet by listening to what the community told us.
“We certainly want to listen to Tonganoxie.”
That means listening to pet owners and birdwatchers — wild birdseed is one of the fastest-growing markets in the animal food industry — as well as livestock and horse owners, Shirley said. Products are on order for the store, which would eventually carry from 12 to 15 pet food brands, Shirley said.
“The best part of a mom-and-pop store is you have so much latitude,” she said. “Everybody has a dog and a cat, and we want to cater to everybody.
“We’re always pet friendly. We lean toward healthy, nutritious, wholesome pet foods.”
The store’s hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.