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Small Businesses in the Rural Ozarks[Part_2]

11-28-06

WELCOME TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE WHERE YOU LIVE, A SERIES FOCUSING ON HOW VOLUNTEERISM AND PHILANTHROPY MEET THE NEEDS OF COMMUNITIES THROUGHOUT THE OZARKS. DURING THIS SERIES, WE EXPLORE A DIFFERENT TOPIC EACH QUARTER—FOCUSING INDEPTH ON THE PEOPLE AND EVENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE HERE IN THE OZARKS. TODAY'S TOPIC IS "SMALL BUSINESSES IN THE RURAL OZARKS."

SUPPORT FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE WHERE YOU LIVE COMES FROM THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE OZARKS.

SMALL BUSINESSES ARE THE LIFEBLOOD OF THE COMMUNITIES THEY LOCATE IN, AND IN THE OZARKS MANY SMALL BUSINESSES ARE LOCATED IN SMALL TOWNS. JANE CARGILL, DIRECTOR OF MISSOURI STATE'S SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER, SAYS IN TOWNS WHERE THERE AREN'T LARGE COMPANIES TO EMPLOYEE ALL THOSE WHO NEED WORK, ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS STRONG.

ACCORDING TO CARGILL, IN THE LAST 10 TO 15 YEARS, SMALL BUSINESSES HAVE BEGUN TO CREATE MORE JOBS THAN LARGE CORPORATIONS.

JIM RIDDLE OWNS ONE OF THOSE SMALL BUSINESSES—HE RAN RIDDLE PHARMACY IN CRANE FOR 22 YEARS (WHICH HE RECENTLY SOLD) AND HAS OWNED PLAZA PHARMACY IN SHELL KNOB FOR 15 YEARS.

RIDDLE AND HIS WIFE JOANNA GREW UP IN CASSVILLE. DURING PHARMACY SCHOOL IN KANSAS CITY, THEY BOTH KNEW THEY WANTED TO MOVE BACK TO A SMALL TOWN.

A FRIEND TOLD THE RIDDLES ABOUT A PHARMACY THAT WAS FOR SALE IN CRANE. A 120-BED NURSING HOME HAD JUST OPENED UP IN THE TOWN, AND THE RIDDLES DECIDED TO BUY.

THE TOWN'S BEEN GOOD TO THEM, BUT THE RIDDLES DECIDED TO SELL THAT STORE AND FOCUS ON THEIR PHARMACY IN SHELL KNOB.

RIDDLE SAYS HIS PHARMACY AND OTHER RURAL PHARMACIES OFFER THE USUAL THINGS A DRUG STORE OFFERS—ALONG WITH SOMETHING ELSE.

THAT COMPETITION HAS ALWAYS BEEN IN THE BACK OF JIM RIDDLE'S MIND. BUT HE FEELS CONFIDENT HIS CUSTOMERS WILL CONTINUE TO BE LOYAL.

RUNNING A PHARMACY IN A SMALL TOWN IS DIFFERENT IN SOME WAYS THAN RUNNING A PHARMACY IN A LARGER CITY. FOR ONE THING, RIDDLE AND HIS WIFE ARE ALWAYS ON THE JOB EVEN WHEN THEY RUN TO THE STORE.

RIDDLE AND HIS WIFE HAVE BEEN PLEASED WITH THEIR DECISION TO OPERATE THEIR OWN BUSINESS IN A SMALL TOWN, EVEN THOUGH HE ADMITS IT'S BEEN TOUGH AT TIMES.

JIM RIDDLE WEIGHS THE ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES OF OPERATING A BUSINESS IN A SMALL TOWN.

AND, OF COURSE, THERE'S NOT THE TRAFFIC COUNT THAT YOU'D FIND IN A LARGER CITY. BUT RIDDLE SAYS THAT'S BALANCED BY THE FACT THAT THE COSTS TO OPEN A BUSINESS IN A SMALL TOWN ARE LOWER.

JANE CARGILL, DIRECTOR OF THE SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER AT MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY, SAYS SMALL BUSINESSES LIKE RIDDLE'S ARE VITAL TO THE COMMUNITIES THEY'RE IN. AND SHE SAYS MOST RESIDENTS REALIZE THAT.

JUST SOUTH OF BOLIVAR ALONG HIGHWAY 13, SITS SHOUGH FURNITURE—A FAMILY BUSINESS THAT'S BEEN AROUND FOR 51 YEARS. IT'S NOW OWNED BY MELINDA FULKS AND HER HUSBAND KEVIN.

MELINDA FULKS' GRANDFATHER STARTED SHOUGH FURNITURE IN AN OLD DAIRY BARN BEFORE MOVING IT TO ITS CURRENT LOCATION. FULKS, HER MOM AND HER DAD WERE ALL BORN AND RAISED IN THE BOLIVAR AREA. SHE SAYS WHILE RUNNING HER OWN BUSINESS IS A LOT OF WORK, IT'S ALSO VERY REWARDING.

FULKS AND HER HUSBAND NOT ONLY HAVE CUSTOMERS FROM BOLIVAR, BUT ALSO FROM TOWNS ALL OVER THE AREA.

AND BEING OPEN FOR SO MANY YEARS HELPS THE BUSINESS BE SUCCESSFUL TODAY.

THAT'S, IN PART, WHY THE FULKS ARE ABLE TO KEEP UP WITH COMPETITION IN NEARBY CITIES.

MELINDA FULKS SAYS BOLIVAR IS VERY SUPPORTIVE OF ITS SMALL BUSINESSES, AND THAT, TOO, IS KEY TO THEIR SUCCESS.

JANE CARGILL, DIRECTOR OF MISSOURI STATE'S SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER, ENCOURAGES RESIDENTS OF SMALL TOWNS TO SHOP THEIR LOCAL STORES AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LOCAL SERVICES WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

CARGILL HAS ADVICE FOR ANYONE THINKING ABOUT OPENING UP A BUSINESS IN A SMALL TOWN. SHE SAYS, TO COMPETE WITH LARGE CORPORATIONS, POTENTIAL ENTREPRENEURS NEED TO LOOK OVER THEIR BUSINESS OPTIONS CAREFULLY. CHOOSE TO OFFER PRODUCTS AND SERVICES THAT AREN'T BEING OFFERED AND THAT COULD SURVIVE A LARGE CHAIN STORE MOVING IN.

CARGILL SUGGESTS CONDUCTING A SURVEY OF THOSE WHO LIVE IN AN AREA YOU'RE THINKING OF LOCATING IN.

THOSE KINDS OF THINGS REDUCE THE RISK THAT COMES WITH OPENING YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

THE SBDC OFFERS HELP TO THOSE STARTING A SMALL BUSINESS.

ON A MONTLY BASIS, THE SBDC OFFERS A SEMINAR SERIES ON HOW TO WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN.

IN JANUARY THE SBDC WILL OFFER A 3-PART SEMINAR SERIES—HOW TO CONTROL CASH FLOW, UNDERSTANDING FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND PREDICTING FUTURE CASH NEEDS. CARGILL SAYS ABOUT 50% OF THOSE WHO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SBDC'S SERVICES ARE FROM OUTSIDE SPRINGFIELD. FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER GO TO sbdc.missouristate.edu.

MELINDA FULKS AND HER HUSBAND KEVIN HAVE OWNED SHOUGH FURNITURE FOR ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF. SHE SAYS IT'S A GOOD FEELING WHEN REPEAT CUSTOMERS COME IN AND SHARE STORIES WITH THEM.

THIS PROGRAM IS AVAILABLE ON THE WEB AT KSMU.ORG. SUPPORT FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE WHERE YOU LIVE COMES FROM THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE OZARKS. FOR KSMU, I'M MICHELE SKALICKY.