Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The end of a shopping era with Home of Economy announcement

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I’m typically not much of a shopper, preferring to make a list, buy what is on it, and get out of the store as quickly as I can.

The exceptions to that are when I am on a trip and enjoy perusing the regional foods in grocery stories and hand-made items at specialty shops and stores that remind me of the general stores I read about in books like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series.

I have been fortunate that the modern version of the latter has operated in nearby Grand Forks, North Dakota, for my entire life – Home of Economy.

The store, founded in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, in 1939 by the late Bob and Jean Kiesau, opened in Grand Forks in 1940, 25 years before I was born. Home of Economy since has added locations in the North Dakota cities of Grafton, Devils Lake, Rugby Jamestown, Minot, Williston and Watford City.

But I am sad to say that the Home of Economy era is soon ending.

Home of Economy co-CEOs Wade and Scott Pearson, grandsons of the Kiesaus, announced on May 30, 2024, that they were selling the store to Runnings, a national company that has 80 stores across the United States. The sale will be finalized in September.

I have never shopped at Runnings, but it sounds like it has a good reputation and, according to news reports, the Pearson brothers said they carefully chose it because they believe it will carry on their family’s legacy of providing quality merchandise at low prices.

I plan to check out Runnings and if I like what I see there, continue to shop there for some of the items I used to buy at Home of Economy.

I use the word “some” because Home of Economy has an eclectic variety of items under one roof that is unlikely to be available at Runnings. The former store’s unique collection of products is something that I haven’t seen anywhere during my travels.

Horse supplies are among the things Ann Bailey has found valuable at Home of Economy.

Ann Bailey / Agweek

My favorite way to explain to people why I loved shopping at Home of Economy was that it was the only place where I could buy both high quality furniture and bags of layer mash for the chickens … and much, much more.

Starting when I was a child and used to go with my mom to buy Breyer model horses at Home of Economy for my sister’s Christmas and birthday gifts, through my teen years when I went with my dad to buy medication for our cattle.

As an adult, besides buying farm toys for my children, my husband, Brian, and I have purchased horse feed, dog food, cat food, fly spray and other supplies for my horses.

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Home of Economy is going to continue to sell its Amish Gallery furniture, but it will be in another location. Ann Bailey has several of the company’s pieces in her home.

Ann Bailey / Agweek

Meanwhile, my faith in the reputation of Home of Economy’s furniture is evident in our home where we have several pieces, including a sofa,china hutch and microwave cart, all beautifully made and durable. According to news reports, Home of Economy is going to continue to sell its Amish Gallery furniture, but it will be in another location. I know I’ll be wistful, though, when I shop at the Amish Gallery new store that won’t be across from the electrical supplies section, which is across the aisle from the livestock supply section, like it is now at Home of Economy.

Besides furniture, I will have many garden tools – hoes, rakes, shovels – to remind me of Home of Economy, along with a post hole digger my siblings and I bought my dad for Father’s Day and bridles, horse halters and grooming tools.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Home of Economy is one-of-a-kind not only in Grand Forks, but in the region, and possibly, in the United States. I’m sad that it’s being sold, but glad that I have many reminders of it in my house and barn. Judging by the quality of those products, they’ll be around for at least another generation to use.

Ann Bailey lives on a farmstead near Larimore, North Dakota, that has been in her family since 1911. You can reach her at anntbailey58@gmail.com.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.

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