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Opening new doors

Montgomery debuts branch store in Dover; Overton adds Ridgeline Turf & Trail in Livingston
Story and photos by Chris Villines 1/1/2018


Montgomery Farmers Cooperative General Manager Josh Briggs is joined by Co-op board members and employees, civic leaders, and Tennessee Farmers Cooperative representatives as he cuts the ribbon at the Nov. 3 grand opening of the Co-op’s new 8,000-square-foot store in Dover. The Co-op brings a much-needed retail option to the area.
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For a farmer or rural consumer in Stewart County, purchasing supplies, apparel, hunting and fishing gear, and other items used to be a time-intensive affair.

A person had to drive 30 miles east to Clarksville or 30 miles west to Paris to mark items off their shopping list. But not anymore.

The grand opening of the new Montgomery Farmers Co-op branch store in Dover on Nov. 3 brought a much-needed local option to the area. Located in the heart of town along busy Highway 79, the 8,000-square-foot building — transformed from what was once home to a Sav-A-Lot food store — attracted a steady stream of enthusiastic customers delighted at having a Co-op in close range.

The celebration gave attendees the chance to register for door prizes, take advantage of product specials, and enjoy grilled hot dogs and hamburgers prepared by Stewart County High School’s FFA chapter.

“We are tickled to death that Co-op is here,” said Dover City Mayor Lisa Fitzhugh, whose husband, Mark, is a 39-year employee of Montgomery Farmers’ main store in Clarksville. “It’s exciting because we had no retail [stores] to speak of and were lacking as far as somewhere to buy farm supplies. The Co-op will be a one-stop shop to get everything you need. I’ve already stocked up on some Christmas gifts!”

The opportunity to open a Dover store had been on the Co-op’s radar “for several years,” according to Montgomery Farmers board president Tony Eldridge. It becomes the fourth location under the Co-op’s umbrella, joining Clarksville and the Crossroads and Stateline branches.

“When the town’s local leaders started inquiring about us putting a store in Dover, that really motivated us to pursue the idea,” said Eldridge, who farms 450 acres of tobacco and strawberries in both Montgomery and Stewart Counties. “Once we started the research into it, we polled certain individuals in the community, and they felt it was a good idea. With the lack of retail in the area, other businesses have embraced us. They don’t see us as coming into the community to take away from them, but to add to the local economy.”

True to the Co-op’s slogan of being “Your hometown store,” Stewart County native and longtime Clarksville store outdoors/sporting goods manager Keith Earhart was selected to oversee the daily operations in Dover.

“I was born and raised here, so it was a natural fit for me,” Earhart said. “People have been really excited about the store from day one because they won’t have to drive all the way to Paris or Clarksville to get what they need. Having a Co-op here will save them a lot of time and money — those fuel costs add up.”

With the area being a gateway to Land Between the Lakes, Montgomery Farmers General Manager Josh Briggs said it was just good business sense to offer a wide selection of outdoor products in the new showroom to go along with items needed by local farmers.

“We are smack dab in the middle of some of the best hunting, fishing, and camping in the country, so we’re hopeful that the outdoor segment of the store will be really popular for both locals and transient traffic,” said Briggs. “Like all Co-ops, we want to make sure we have all the ag necessities for farmers: feed, animal health products, fencing, hardware products, and more. We’re fortunate to have a building that will accommodate all of that.”

In addition to farm and outdoor items, Dover store customers will find an ample selection of Carhartt and Under Armour clothing and other apparel, footwear, pet and horse supplies, lawn and garden items, bird feed and accessories, beekeeping supplies, toys, gifts, home decor, and Husqvarna and DeWalt power equipment inside. Outside, farm hardware and equipment line the Co-op’s front lot near the highway.

“The support from the community has been amazing,” added Earhart. “Even during construction, people were coming in and asking, ‘When is it going to be open?’ and ‘What are you going to have?’”

Briggs lauded his staff for the “quick, quick” turnaround time from the project’s start to its completion.

“The decision to proceed with the Dover store was at the June [2017] board meeting, and we started physically working on the site the first of July,” he said. “We did everything from the ground up from then until we opened the doors on Oct. 23. For several of us, about every day involved going to Dover. Almost every department was down here at some point doing something while others were keeping things afloat in Clarksville. I commend the staff for their efforts.”

Those efforts didn’t go unnoticed by shoppers as they navigated the well-lit showroom featuring spacious aisles and neatly merchandised displays.

“This place is so nice and convenient,” said David Wallace, a Dover pharmacist who also runs an Angus beef cattle operation with his brother-in-law, Kenny Spiceland. “I was driving to the Co-op in Clarksville to pick up what I needed, but now I can just drop in here, get what I need, and go. I’ll be in here a bunch. It’s terrific.”

The new store is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday. For more information, call the Co-op at 931-534-2209.

Ridgeline takes Overton “to the next level”

When Overton Farmers Cooperative General Manager Brian Gilliam looked around the warehouse at the Co-op’s Livingston store, he saw that one component was clearly lacking — the amount of available space.

What was causing this conundrum? A marked increase in the Co-op’s sales and service of outdoor power equipment. It was a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

“About eight years ago, that end of the business just took off wide open,” says Brian, who’s in his 22nd year of managing Overton Farmers. “We were taking up about 40 percent of our warehouse space with lawnmowers and running out of places to put bagged feed and fertilizer. It was one of those deals where we either had to get out of the outdoor power equipment business completely or take it to the next level by doing something different. We decided to take it to the next level.”

The result of that decision is Ridgeline Turf & Trail, an all-new 6,400-square-foot facility owned and operated by the Co-op for the express purpose of selling and servicing power equipment. Located at 125 Tom Davis Drive in Livingston, just up the hill from the Co-op, this new arm of Overton Farmers debuted with a grand opening celebration on Oct. 27.

Boasting a brand lineup that includes such household names as Husqvarna, Exmark, Arctic Cat, Ez-Go, Generac, Kohler Power, and Troy-Bilt, Ridgeline Turf & Trail offers zero-turn mowers, ATVs, side-by-sides, golf carts, chainsaws, trimmers, log splitters, blowers, and more. The store is managed by Scott Parr, who’s been with the Co-op since 2003.

“Our power equipment sales have steadily grown year by year, so we either had to build a new warehouse or build a new facility,” says Parr. “The thing we were worried about was traffic in and out of the warehouse. We didn’t want to run the risk of anyone getting hurt. We had to do something to meet our customers’ needs.”

Parr adds that Ridgeline’s team of service technicians are trained to work on all makes and models.

“It’s an open service center,” he says.

Gilliam concedes that investing in a stand-alone building was initially “a tough sell” to the Co-op’s board, but once they realized the benefits of freeing up warehouse space and adding more products such as ATVs and side-by-sides to the lineup, they were swayed.

“We wanted to build something modern and eye appealing, not just something you threw together,” Gilliam says. “And by adding more products, such as four-wheelers and side-by-sides, it expands what you can offer customers and helps bring in additional revenue that justifies this type of facility.

“There’s a lot of potential for growth with Ridgeline. We’re excited about it.”

Ridgeline Turf & Trail is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 931-403-9273 or visit their Facebook page.

Overton adds

Massey-Ferguson to lineup

In a related note, Overton Farmers Co-op recently became an official dealer of Agco/Massey-Ferguson farm equipment.

As a full-service dealer, Overton Farmers offers Massey-Ferguson tractors (subcompact, compact, and utility tractors up to 130 horsepower), disc mowers, Massey-Ferguson/Hesston hay rollers and square balers, parts and accessories, and more.

“[Overton Farmers Assistant Manager] Billy Maxwell and I have talked about becoming a Massey dealer for 10 years, but the option never became available,” says Gilliam. “A few months ago, some of their regional reps sat down with me and Billy, looked at our facilities, and we were ready to move forward. It’s a great opportunity for our Co-op as we look to grow and offer value-added services for our customers.”

For additional information, contact the Co-op’s Billy Maxwell at 931-823-1291.

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