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Farm supplier to fill Kroger void

Rural King Supply to settle in SW

Another agricultural retail store should do much to serve the more than 1,600 farms in Allen County, an official says.

A Rural King Supply outlet will replace the former southwest-side Kroger store now that the company has purchased the building for $2.3 million. The Cincinnati grocer sold the 66,000-square-foot-store, 8801 U.S. 24 W., to a business that specializes in livestock feed, farm equipment, agricultural parts and lawn mowers.

Kroger closed in October 2012 when the retailer opened its Kroger Marketplace in the Village of Coventry across the road. The $16 million store was part of the company’s more than $100 million investment in the community after it acquired the Scott’s Food & Pharmacy chain.

Situated on 8 acres, Rural King also will sell work wear, fashion clothing, housewares and toys in coming weeks.

Known for its complimentary bags of popcorn and cups of coffee, the store will be a welcome addition, area farmers say.

“It’s always good to add another farm supply outlet,” said Roger Hadley, president of the Allen County Farm Bureau and a Woodburn grower. “It will be right off the expressway, so that should provide good access.”

Rural King joins similar outlets such as Tractor Supply Co. and Mutton Power Equipment in catering to farmers in northeast Indiana.

Officials from Rural King were unavailable for comment Monday.

Since Kroger closed its doors two years ago, there has been speculation about what would fill the desirable location.

Local retail experts doubted seriously that Kroger would sell to a competitor.

Jessica Huffman, whose company, CBRE Sturges, brokered the deal, is pleased with the outcome.

“It will be really good for the area,” she said. “We would have liked to have had it sold sooner, but we’re glad it finally got done.”

Rural King Supply was founded in 1960. It has headquarters in Mattoon, Ill., and 70 stores in eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Florida.

The locations nearest Fort Wayne are Angola, Decatur, Kendallville and Van Wert, Ohio.

Hadley said a Summit City store will cut down the driving time for growers who had to make their way to other parts of the region.

“It will be good for people in Fort Wayne,” he said, “of course I’d like to see one in my own backyard so I wouldn’t have to drive at all.”

pwyche@jg.net

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