Bottom Dollar Mercantile brings big town business to the small town of Bearden. THV11's Rolly Hoyt has the story. KTHV
BEARDEN, Ark. (KTHV) - Everywhere you look in small-town America, you can see what happens over the years to Main Street when a big box store like Walmart comes to town.
“When the first store opened, the grocery store closed and we're what was left,” said Randy Lindsey, co-owner of Bottom Dollar Mercantile.
Bearden has a big timber mill in the middle of its tiny downtown. It has no stoplights left. But it does have a place where you can get pretty much anything.
“We've got kitchen appliances. Over here we got the automotive section. We got a little bit of clothing. Dollar toys. You got to have dollar toys. Kitchen sink faucets,” said Randy as he took us on a tour.
Randy Lindsey and his wife Janice own the Bottom Dollar Mercantile in Bearden. It’s lodged between Fordyce and Camden, and the store has a loyal following among the 700 or so people nearby.
“There are hardware parts, there's all the stuff you would get at a convenience store, it's a grocery store. It's kind of all in one,” explained Melissa Dunn, a customer at the mercantile.
But loyalty will only get you so far, with two corporate dollar store chains just down the street. So, the Lindsey’s double down on the effort.
Randy cuts deals with the few wholesalers that will work with him. He drives 100 miles to the nearest Sam's Club to stock his shelves. He's a stock boy, truck driver, and even the butcher.
“There's not a butcher, it's me. Just a one-horse show,” said Randy.
Love for the community
Randy and Janice didn't start this business to try and strike a blow against the corporate giants that are erasing parts of small-town America. They did it for a classic American reason, they wanted to make money. But along the way, they've discovered so much more about how they can help the community.
“The community has supported me and that's great, but the community has to get something in return. The community can't support you if you can't be moderately competitive on prices. That's just what we do,” said Randy. They also offer deliveries and this past year, started accepting government assistance.
“People having to fill those orders had to go to Camden or Fordyce. Well, now they can do it here,” he explained.
“What brings me down here all the time is it's a good place to trade at. And I ain't never been turned down for nothing,” said customer Lawrence Brown.
Randy's son Matt manages the place. He built the store's website from scratch in between earning a master’s degree. He points to the way his mom and dad's store can extend credit.
“You see that in old westerns. People don't do that anymore. You don't go to Walmart and say can have meat today because I'm hungry and can I come back on Friday. Can you hold this check until Saturday?” Matt explained.
His Dad has a heart and defiance.
“This is still America, I still want to do what I'm doing. It's not the money. It's not that. It's just, plus nobody else does it. If I can keep these doors open, tell me someplace else that is,” Randy added.
If you’d like to check out the Bottom Dollar Mercantile, just click here.