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shopko: a pledge to small town america



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          We recently took a drive through Wyoming on our way to Chadron, Ne for nachos.  Along the way we saw several Shopko’s with signs indicating an impending closure.  These Shopko stores, most of which were in small towns, appeared to be the main store for that community.  As we continued our drive I began to wonder how far the folks who live in these towns would need to drive to get comparable services to those which they would lose by the closure of their local Shopko.  Times are changing, and so are the dynamics that support small town America.  What do we lose in allowing these backbone communities, which once thrived, to continually deteriorate?  It is a habit of ours to stop into local café’s in these small towns when we drive through, and when one is still available.  I love sitting in any of these small shops for a cup of coffee.  They were at one time more popular than Paul Harvey as a place to receive local news and storied gossip. Now the once loved café/coffee shop has become a place of history.  Where locals tell the stories of yesterday, more so than the plans of tomorrow.  It breaks my heart. 

          Could the internet save these communities?  With the ability to work from home and have goods shipped to your house on demand, a modern life can be maintained.  With technological innovation supporting these communities, a resurgence in the popularity of a simpler life may be in the future of a determined millennial population.  A look at any small town community today will provide a glimpse of cheaper real estate prices and open opportunity.  It used to be that businesses in small towns were generational.  If your dad owned the grocery store, or drug store, then you would probably take over for them when the time came.  Today, when the time comes, these businesses either close or corporate America buys the business and takes from the community rather than adding value through community reinvestment. 

          If your dad was a farmer, it used to be that you would farm.  The farmers of yesterday are going to the local assisted living, too old from their hard labors to continue.  There is no lineage in farming any more.  Kids today do not want to be farmers tomorrow.  They want to conform.  Instead of living a life of independence where responsibility for ones actions daily is the main determining factor of tomorrows success.  The traditional farming lifestyle. So the farmer goes into retirement and his children sell off his land and accomplishments to cover his expenses to death.  Growing up in a farming community like I did, this breaks my heart. 

          I always say that for every situation there is a Vandergraph Innovation.  As we drive through these towns I always think, “You know we have a hardware store, sporting goods, grocery store, farm and ranch supply store, dollar store, and 45 other stores on that could provide for the loss of services in small town America.”  We can ship anywhere, and we have most anything a person living in a small town community would need.  As a part of the business we do in these communities, there is a economic reinvestment that would be made by the Bargainbrute organization.  This reinvestment comes as community services, economic support, scholarships, and grants.  In addition, the Female Empowerment campaign the executive board of Vandergraph Worldwide is currently investing millions of dollars in could be leveraged to find gainful employment and education opportunities for the women in these small towns.  This support will include home school opportunities and child care grants.  Together we are strong.  I would like to invite small town and rural America to visit for all of your shopping needs, and ask that you reach out to us regarding community partnerships and individual growth opportunities.


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