Angie Watson, Dee Dee Rogers and Julie Miller give their all to Genoa Feed-N-Hardware Store
by Emily Sloan
On February 9, 2011, Angie Watson gambled on an idea that would change her career, her life, and her community. With her two best friends on either side, and a longstanding dream in her heart, she embarked on a new journey.
Genoa Feed-N-Hardware Store has been open for years, even as other businesses. It is located on Genoa Highway in the Greenwich Village community south of Texarkana. Owned by Carl Bean, Angie traded at the store with her father whom she lost in 2003. It hurt her heart too bad to go to her own barn let alone the feed store to get supplies. However, one day, there was no one else to send. In visiting with Carl, she found out that he wasn't expecting a new shipment of feed because he was selling the store due to health issues. In fact, he had a buyer lined up and was striking the deal at eight.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
For 15 years, Angie worked with Dee Dee Rogers and Julie Miller at the Texarkana Country Club. During this time, Angie (the dreamer) had always appealed to Dee Dee (the pragmatic) and Julie (the cautious) to band with her and invest in alternate business ventures. She was always met with a resounding "No." Angie refused to be discouraged. She remembers, "I was smart enough to know that I needed to be in business with someone smarter than me." To her, those "someones" were Dee Dee and Julie.
Angie called Dee Dee to suggest they purchase the store. Dee Dee wanted to ask Julie, who was in California visiting with family. Julie was ill, but responded, "How much?" When Dee Dee shared the details, Julie replied, "I am willing to lose that amount just to shut her up!" Without seeing a profit/loss statement or inventory list, and with another buyer ahead of them, Dee Dee called Angie back and said, "We're in." To this day, the women joke that Julie's pneumatic (pneumonia) episode is the only reason they actually bought the store; she was too weak to put up a fight.
At 8:05, Carl called Angie to let her know that his original buyer changed his mind. She shook Carl's hand that night knowing she had to be right back there at seven to train and then be at work at 10:30.
Angie didn't sleep that night. In fact, she almost got sick thinking about how everything would work. She remembers thinking, "My daddy always told me, 'If you give somebody your word, you do your darnedest to do what you say.'" Backing out was not an option.
The original plan was for Dee Dee and Julie to be part owners in a feed store that Angie ran. For the first 8 months, they juggled work schedules and events at the club while running the store. By October, they had all transitioned to full-time at the store.
Some marvel at three women running a feed and hardware store. The ladies admit that with anyone else it probably wouldn't work. But this group of women had "already established the pecking order" after working so many years together. Dee Dee said, "We all have different gifts, and we understand that the other person might be better at something than we are." Angie added, "And we're not insecure with each other." Julie concluded, "We respect what the other one does and don't want that job!"
Although none of them had feed store backgrounds per se, together their collective skill sets are qualification enough. Angie showed, trained, and broke horses her entire life and hauled cows with her father. Her parents owned multiple businesses. She and Julie were also no strangers to projects including hardware and small construction. Julie's grandmother and mother owned restaurants, and Julie herself was an excellent cook. Plus, she was a business owner before going to work at the Country Club. Dee Dee earned a masters degree in business and a teaching certificate all while working part-time at the Club prior to becoming a manager there.
Now, Angie does all the ordering for the hardware and feed portions of the store and manually keeps inventory. She also mans the front sales register. Julie is in charge of all of the food and supply ordering for the Chuck Wagon. She handles all the shopping, cooking, and event management. Dee Dee balances the books, takes care of taxes, fulfills and loads orders in the feed warehouse and takes care of all the live animals.
Angie says, "I know that on the morning of February 9, God was as excited as a parent on Christmas Day!"
The women are confident that only God could pull together all of their abilities and supply everything they needed to make this venture a success. Their community rallied around the store and "willed them to make it" by taking a personal interest and helping anyway they could. And how do they parlay that success into more success? By treating people right. Dee Dee says their motto is: "If you walk out of our business happier than when you came in, then we've done our job. Even if you don't buy a thing. God put us here to help this community and to help people, and if we do that, He is going to provide for us." The evidence is convincing. In two years, they've opened a feed store, a hardware store, a tack store, a lawn and garden center, and have their own garden, with all their own animals. They also opened a restaurant. The Chuck Wagon began as a shaved ice stand. Now it offers a menu as well as a daily special which is basically whatever Julie feels like cooking for the day. They are available for booking country chic dinners and fundraisers. A customer once commented to Angie, "I don't think there is another feed store in the entire United States where I can get Eggs Benedict, my feed, and a plumbing part in the same store." They're proud to offer an array of products with boutique style service. People notice the difference, too. Change is always counted back at the register, and orders are always loaded for the customer. That's the difference between service and selling. People can count on quality and still be free of being sold something they don't need. Their philosophy has always been, "We'd rather see 100 people at $20 than 20 people at $100." So they keep their prices as low as possible. These women believe "service is an art and a gift to others and ourselves." Dee Dee once heard a customer say to another, "The great thing about this place is you walk in the door, and they really treat you like you're somebody, and you know you're nobody." She shared, "What we do unto others not only can, but will be done to us. When we take care of others, the universe will send it back." Angie says, "It's really hard to fail" in regards to taking a heartfelt risk. "If we closed right now, I would consider everything we've done up to this point a success." Julie admits that the other two have practically dragged her along, but that she "hasn't regretted trusting them yet."
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
All three believe legacy is about who you touch in this life. They want to know people can say, "She helped me; she made a difference." A reputation like that matters more than where you work or what you own. The trend in business is to go newer, bigger, and more technological. Instead, Genoa Feed Store is going vintage and serving up a heaping platter of nostalgia. There's a comfort, a trust between the women and their customers. It's a fun loving family store. Parents shop while children play by the animals. They created the environment to feel like the mom and pop stores of yesteryear where everyone is known on a first name basis. The Genoa Feed-N-Hardware store is the gem of Greenwich Village. The women who run it are modern day prospectors of the golden rule, making sure at least one community gets to experience it while hoping, yet deep down knowing, it will ripple out from there.