Van Alstyne Feed & Hardware now under construction

| January 17, 2020 | Reply

The new Van Alstyne Feed & Hardware Store, in the infancy of construction.

By Mary Jane Farmer — This is the full-length article, the shortened-for-space-available version is in the January 17 issue of the Van Alstyne Leader.

It’s a family project.

Gerald and Jahron Strother, their daughter, Amanda, and her husband Gerald Rutledge are opening the True Value Feed & Hardware Store. Gerald Rutledge said that, after retirement, he walked into the Community Development Corporation office about what possibilities for retail could be available. He considered, he said, renting out the building on East Marshall Street that formerly housed the Van Alstyne Hardware Store. That was about two years ago, he said. CDC Executive Director Rodney Williams asked him, Rutledge continued, if he could consider selling hardware. That sounded like a winning idea, and besides, he said, “I’d like to have a little feed store, too.”

Van Alstyne also once held a feed store on Marshall street, and that closed down a decade or so ago. And for the Strother and Rutledge families, that part of the project is a little down the road.

An important factor for these new entreprenauers is that they build somewhere in or near the historic downtown area. They located several acres on North Main Drive, parallel to the railroad tracks. “We bought 3.1 acres, and donated 1.5 of that to the city,” Gerald Rutledge said. That was important because, as others who purchased property along Main Street discovered, the land for the street had never been deeded to the city. Now, with the donation, the city does own Main Street.

That was one of several kinks that had to be straightened out. Another was that the utility hookups were across the street and needed to be expanded to accommodate the hardware store. The property is not in the designated Central Business District. The city provides parking spaces inside the CBD, but not in this location, so the family got busy designing adequate parking space for its customers.

After all that, “it became pretty smooth sailing,” said Gerald Strother.

That is, until Amanda Rutledge was diagnosed with cancer, and the family put it all on hold to take care of that. Now, she is cancer free, she said.

Choosing True Value over the other options was based on True Value’s policy of allowing their stores to decide what they need to stock.

The building will take up 5,400 square feet, or half an acre, and leaves about 1.5 acres available for parking and for the feed store. Ultimately, they hope to have a separate farm and ranch section, “About 50 percent farm and ranch and 50 percent hardware,” but in the beginning the building will be used for both, according to Gerald Rutledge.

The building will have an overhead door to make it easier for contractors to load their bigger trucks. The ladies plan also to have a section dedicated to crafts and goods, such as the pickles and cherries they can.

“We can this to be like an old-time general store, with rocking chairs out front,” said Jahron Strother. Both Gerald Strother and Gerald Rutledge said they have already been approved about employment, and plan to hire part-time help and to use both students and retired people. They will get the word out when they are ready to begin hiring. They are using local labor in the construction.

If the weather begins to cooperate, they said, the construction could be complete anywhere between mid-April and mid-May. Once up and running, the family will also make it a point to be available in such emergencies as broken pipes in the middle of the night. And keep it a safe area for children to ride their bikes.

“If it hadn’t been for Rodney (Williams), this may not have been happening, we might have pulled the plug a long time ago,” said Gerald Rutledge. “He’s the mortar that held this thing together.”

And as excited as they are all to get the store up and running, they are all just as excited about the location, around the Farmers Market, Fall der All, the new park, car shows and pumpkins.

 

 

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