Florida State

Rural King trumpets itself as ‘America’s farm and home store’. With over 133 branches in 13 states in the US, Rural King takes the award for providing rural America with a one-stop shop for all things farm and home.

They sell work clothes and farm boots, hunting and outdoor living equipment, irrigation parts, pump supplies, pet food and supplies, tractors, firearms, rabbits, and even live chicks! Talk about embracing farm life!

Rural King has 8 stores scattered all over Florida. Florida is a strategic location for Rural King due to the presence of over 47,499 farms and ranches and the 9.70 million acres of farmland actively being used to produce an array of food and cash crops. It’s, therefore, safe to conclude that there are lots of farm folk in Florida. 

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Where Was the First Rural King Branch Opened? 

The first Rural King branch was set up 62 years ago in 1960 in Mattoon, Illinois, another part of America with a vibrant rural community. Matton, Illinois is home to nearly 300 farms and has over 18,000 acres of farmland.

The founders, Kermit Speer and his friend and fellow farmer Keith Beaird, sold their farms and put the money into the first Rural King store.

The store had only 2 employees apart from Keith and Kermit and was located in a 7,200 sized space that was formerly an implement building.

The first store was a success. In 1963, an additional building was built to serve as a warehouse. The rest is history!

Where Was the First Rural King Branch in Florida?

Rural King Florida

The Midwest farm supply chain expanded into Florida, starting north of Tampa Bay in Hernando County. Rural King bought an old abandoned building, formally a Kmart store, for $1.6 million.

The building had been empty for about 10 years. In 2013, the first of 8 Florida stores were officially opened to customers.

The feedback from its first customers stated that Rural King understood their rural life needs in ways that other big retailers did not. 

Why Does Rural King Have So Many Branches?

Rural King is the fastest-growing privately-owned supply chain store in America.

The increase in the number of branches is directly attributed to the fact that they are growing, forming partnerships, and are good at identifying where they are needed. 

Rural King might be a general merchandise supply store, but it is also very specialized in that it targets a specific pool of the general public; the rural folk. All their branches are strategically located with this premise in mind. 

How does Rural King Select Where to Put Up a New Branch?

If there are farms nearby, then Rural King is on its way! Their location selection process for where to add a store is complex.

Extensive market and competitor research have to be carried out. Planning has to be meticulous. It also requires significant financial input in all the processes involved. 

Rural King invested in a helicopter to ease movement across their branches as well as to survey potential locations from a vantage point. 

Are All Rural King Branches Owned by the Same Person? 

CEO of Rural King

Rural King Supply is a family-owned business. It, however, does not have a single specific owner. Family members co-own it through share interests bought at different times.

The current CEO is Alex Melvin, a great-nephew of Kermit, RK’s founding father. Alex’s father, Gary, was one of the employees of Rural King.

He later purchased an interest and began managing branches independently. More qualified family members have joined the business since. 

Who are Rural King’s Competitors in Florida? 

Florida has many farm supply stores, all competing for a larger percentage of the market share. Here are some of Rural King’s direct competitors in Florida:

  1. Palmer Feed Store

  2. Farm  Direct Supply

  3. North Florida Feed and Supply

  4. Florida Farm Supplies

  5. Hardee Ranch Supply

  6. Harold’s Farm Supply Dover

  7. Helena Agri

  8. Bunnell Feed and Supply

  9. Ocala Breeders Feed Supply

  10. Tractor Supply Store

Many of these farm and home supply stores have more than one branch within Florida, just like Rural King. Competition is fierce, a reality that compels Rural King to develop new ways of doing business and attracting customers. Rural King markets itself as the lowest-priced store among them and runs promotions and sales daily. 

Do Rural King’s Florida Branches Offer Discounts? 

Yes! All Rural King branches in the 13 US states they are located offer discounts. Here is a list of their everyday discounts and deals that shoppers in Florida can take advantage of:

  1. The price match policy: Rural King will match any prices offered by its competitors on identical items. To qualify for a price match, make sure your item from the competitor's store is 100 percent identical to the item at Rural King. As well, the item must not have been sold to you under any special promotions or discounts. Sometimes, instead of price matching, Rural King opts to beat the competitor's price and gives you an even higher discount! 

  2. A monthly giveaway of $500 to a newsletter subscriber. A lucky subscriber is picked using a random selection method. The voucher is sent to the winner via email. They are free to use it all at once or over a period of time.  You can sign up as a subscriber via their website or by sending a text message to 24321 with the word ‘KING’.  Besides automatically being included in the $500 draw, you also get a chance to take advantage of the many sales and promotional alerts featured in the newsletter. 

  3. A credit card system that has interest-free benefits for 6 months. Interest-only accrues after this grace period lapses. This is applicable for expenses of $299 and above. Save the extra expenditure by making sure you pay any pending credit card bills within the specified time frame. 

  4. Manufacturers’ rebates are also offered on selected items. The company provides you with rebate application forms that they send to the manufacturer on your behalf. Check out the rebate section on RK’s website for the latest offers. 

  5. Flash sales happen every other day on the company’s website. Items featured in the flash sales are from limited stock and are sold out speedily at very low prices.  The beauty of flash sales is that they happen online, meaning you can shop wherever you are and get your items delivered to you, or pick them up from one of their stores near you.

  6. Hundreds of items are placed on sale each week. Newsletter subscribers are the first to get alerts, but the same information is easily accessible on their website. Items on sale are also clearly labeled in the company’s physical stores. 

  7. Price Busters can be found on the Rural King Website daily. There’s always something on sale!

  8. You can find up to 60%-off coupons on Slickdeals, a crowdsourced shopping platform. Among Rural King’s coupons, Slickdeals provides a list of other stores’ coupons for the taking. They have a phone app that works pretty well. American shoppers have saved over $6.9 Billion through Slickdeals since 2013. 

Customer Reviews for Rural King Branches in Florida

Customer Review for Rural King

In terms of customer reviews, Rural King outlets in Florida have an average rating. Customers rated them based on customer service, ease of credit card use, delivery services, tracking services, pricing, accessibility, and quality of items sold. Below are the rating scores for Rural King according to a Yelp survey of hardware stores in Florida.

  • Customer service:  1.95 out of 5. Generally, customers are dissatisfied with the customer service and cite unanswered emails and phone calls as their main bone of contention. 

  • Delivery and shipping service: 2.7 out of 5. A slightly above average score. Most customers had little to no issues with the delivery service. The major complaints were wrong delivery of items or unexplained delays. 

  • Accessibility: 4 out of 5. Most customers felt that Rural King is accessible to them and has enough parking for them at all times. 

  • Credit card issues: 2 out of 5. Most customers experienced difficulty while trying to use the Rural King Harvest Card during checkout. The frustration was made worse by poor communication from the store’s customer care. 

  • Tracking services: 2.5 out of 5. Half of the reviewers had no issues tracking orders, but the other half complained of order cancellations without notice, unexplained delays, and an inability to see exactly at which stage the order processing and shipping were.   

The total average of Rural King Stores in Florida sits at 2.64 out of 5. Not so bad, but it is the lowest among its competitors. Rural King would do well to address all the issues raised by their clientele. Rural King’s gun section has also been ranked 43rd among other gun sites.

Are the Rural King Stores in Florida Safe?

Store Robbed

Rural King Stores are vulnerable to breaking into, just like those of other retailers.

On July 26 and August 16 of 2019, their Ocala and Zephyrhills branches were broken into.

Carlos Eduardo Hampton and three accomplices used a sledgehammer to break into the stores.

They used the same sled hammer to smash the display glasses, making away with 28 firearms, 16 in Ocala and 12 in Zephyrhills.

The employees on duty in these stores at the time panicked and fled the scene.

Some of the stolen firearms went on to be used in crimes in South Florida and Indiana. Since then, however, the police have recovered some of the stolen firearms.  

Carlos and others were apprehended while fleeing the second Rural King crime scene in Pasco County.

He, particularly, was charged and taken to court where he pleaded guilty on all counts; robbery and possession of firearms as a convicted felon.

Carlos had previously been charged and convicted for an offense involving firearms in Indiana and was therefore forbidden from possessing guns under federal law.

Senior US District Judge, John Antoon II, sentenced Carlos to a total of 8 years and a month in federal prison. 

Hampton was identified by the surveillance cameras at Rural King. His shoes had broken glass fragments from the smashed displays.

There have not been other similarly dangerous incidents since, apart from the small-time shoplifting that also happens in other stores.

Conclusion

Florida’s farming industry is the second largest in Florida, with tourism being the first.

The need for a dedicated store that caters solely to the farm life side of the divide is what Rural King attributes its success to in Florida.

Currently, there are over 130 Rural King locations in the US. These are spread across 13 states. That leaves 37 states without a Rural King Store.

Expansion plans are still underway, and considering its current success in market penetration, Rural King will find its way into the rest of rural America in the long run.

However, to do this, RK must address customer complaints to curb the tide of not-so-palatable ratings and reviews they are currently receiving.