Best Of 2000

Best Rural Department Store: Buchheit

Let's say you have flies. Or any other little bug driving you crazy when you go out in the backyard. Where are you gonna get the kind of industrial-strength, reasonably safe invention you need to get rid of the little pests? Time to head south down I-55 to Herculaneum, the nearest location for Buchheit, the store with more American-made products. See, Buchheit caters to farmers, mostly, and farmers have to deal with insects all the time. So they have this neat little kit that attracts flies into a bag filled with liquid, which drowns them as they try to leave. The dead flies bring more flies, until pretty soon you've got yourself a pretty smelly little bag of insects sent on to their reward. Your reward is, they aren't bothering you anymore. But Buchheit is so much more than a place to kill bugs. This store is loaded with paint and tools, lawn and garden, home improvement, pet and livestock accessories, Western-style clothes and the coolest toy department we've seen in three decades. The toys are mostly little replicas of farm equipment, animals and buildings, and they have a tendency to instill a Pavlovian response in any 40-year-old who ever dreamed of the wondrous scenarios advertised in the old Sears-Roebuck Christmas catalogs. You want bird seed you scoop up from an old tub? They got it. Need those giant pots like Granny used to cook up vittles in on The Beverly Hillbillies? They got 'em. How about a new saddle for your horse? There's a whole wall full of choices there. Or live baby chickens and ducks? It's an Easter farm all summer long at Buchheit. Buchheit has been around since 1934 (which alone makes it fascinating, given that 1934 wasn't the best year to start a business) and has six locations within a 100-mile radius. The Herculaneum store is the closest and is full of wonders for any city folk looking to expand their horizons.

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