Unless you’re one of the (very few) very rich people out there, you’re likely feeling the pinch (bite) of rising prices. We definitely are. If you’re a bargain-hunter, you already know to comparison shop…but did you know that the same farm store may have different prices based on location?
We live in an area that has both Tractor Supply Company (TSC) and Rural King stores. The TSC stores are more conveniently located for us than Rural King, and there are certain items that we will typically pick up at the local TSC, like pine flake shavings for poultry bedding. We’d been blithely shopping at the closest TSC, buying all manner of farm-related items, from boots to electric fencing supplies to oyster shell.
Our first surprise came when we realized that we could get a 50 pound bag of grit (basically, crushed granite in various sizes that poultry will eat to help them digest their food) at our local feed mill – where we were already buying our livestock feed – for about the same price as a 5 pound bag. What’s the question?? Needless to say, we no longer buy our poultry grit at the farm store.
We also purchased electric fencing supplies for our pastured pigs at TSC: chargers, poly rope, and the necessary accessories. We bought most of it at one location, but had to go to another location to get a few items that were unavailable at the closer store. It was only when we need to exchange an item and we took it back to the store that was nearer to us that we realized that something was not right: the price on the item (a charger) was about $20 more at the store that was nearer to us than it was at the store that was slightly (about 10 mins further to drive to) further away. A mystery!
Any good mystery begs for investigation. In researching various items on the store’s website – including some that we frequently purchased, like the pine shavings – we found that there were significant price discrepancies. For example, at the closer store, the shavings were almost $2 a bag more expensive than at the one that was slightly farther away. While not every item we checked was more expensive, many were.
And why would that be the case? At first, I suspected that it had to do with the demographics of the area where the closer TSC was located: higher income, generally less rural – customers are likely more of the “hobbyist” camp. The other store is in a generally lower income, more rural, area, and customers are probably represented by more farmers who farm as a livelihood. Sounds plausible, doesn’t it?
But it turns out that the real reason that the store that’s farther away from us has lower prices is its proximity to a competitor. In areas where there is a Rural King, the TSC tries to price match. A bag of shavings that’s $7.39 at the closer store (where there’s no Rural King nearby) may be priced at $5.59…because the Rural King prices its shavings at $5.29.
So, if you live in an area where you have Tractor Supply stores and its competitors, you may want to double-check the prices online at the TSC stores within driving distance to identify if there are savings to be realized by going to a location where there is a competitor nearby. Oh, and check the competitor’s prices, too.
Wishing our fellow small farmers (and friends) good hunting when it comes to ways to save money and make our hard-earned dollars go as far as they possibly can!