What it's like to visit Rural King, a chain that sells farm supplies, guns, and live chicks — with perks like free popcorn
Founded in 1960 in Mattoon, Illinois, Rural King is a chain of farm supply stores.
The company has stores in 13 states across the Midwest and South.
Insider recently visited one of those stores in Greenwood, Indiana.
Rural King is a farm supply store chain known for its eclectic mix of merchandise, which includes grass seeds, grills, auto parts, live animals, and firearms.
But to get a better feel for the shopping experience offered at the store, I visited a Rural King location in Greenwood, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis.
I visited a Rural King on a rainy April weekday in Greenwood, Indiana. Size-wise, it's a pretty big store, selling a mix of products around farm supplies, tools, and housewares.
Inside, the location has an expansive, stripped-down feel. Outside of a few special standout stops that we'll get to in a moment, it's a pretty average, almost industrial-looking store.
A lot of the products focus around all things farming, with plenty of cost-efficient bulk offerings ...
... but there are also items dedicated to more universal pursuits, like gardening.
I encountered this self-serve grass seed station. Rural King's more interactive displays make the shopping experience more memorable.
Rural King also carries a number of different tool brands, allowing the chain to compete with home improvement and hardware stores. The company is headquartered in the city where it was first founded back in 1960: Mattoon, Illinois.
Walking around the store felt a bit like visiting a movie theater. For reasons that will become clear later on, much of the store smells like popcorn.
We walked around to practically every section in the store. Rural King sells everything from auto parts to patio furniture to outdoor appliances, like these grills.
There's plenty of outdoor decor, like these ornamental seraphim ...
... although some of those options, like poor St. Francis of Assisi here, looked kind of battered.
There are also plenty of items that serve practical purposes for individuals and families living in more rural areas, like these owl decoys meant to deter birds.
The Rural King boasted a large apparel section, which centered around lots of heavy-duty work-related clothing.
There were also quite a few political t-shirts and hats ...
... along with some more silly designs meant to signify a "country" lifestyle. The company currently operates over 120 stores in the US, with locations scattered across 13 states in the Midwest and the South.
Rural King also had a surprisingly big footwear section, with work shoes and boots, and dressier options, like these cowboy boots.
... there were even selling cowboy boots for kids.
In addition to larger ticket items like these vehicles ...
... and sections devoted to hobbies like fishing ...
... and hunting ...
... the Rural King also stocked more standard retail fair. The grocery section in the store contained brands like MoonPies.
Rural King also offered an entire shelf of private label products, like jams and spiced peaches.
But the showstopper section of the store — which is marked in the Greenwood location by a trail meant to look like yellow chicken-feet — has to do with the company's origins as a farm supply retailer.
An entire row of tubs containing hordes of cheeping baby chicks — and occasionally ducklings — sits at the core of the store.
At the Greenwood store, a memorial dedicated to a man once known as "Chicken Charlie" overlooks the tubs.
The chicks are clustered around food dispensers, beneath heat lamps keeping them warm.
Each bucket represents a different breed of chicken.
Lots of passersby, even those with zero interest in buying backyard chickens, swing by to look at the baby animals.
There are also a variety of bunny rabbits kept in cages nearby, as well.
The chicks and rabbits are definitely the highlight of the entire store.
Signs warn Rural King shoppers walking with dogs to not allow their pets to rush the chick tubs or rabbit cases. And nearby, there's a box of treats to help bribe dogs into behaving in the store.
Rural King also features a gun section that gives the location a unique feel. This part of the store had a distinctive smell, but I'm not knowledgeable enough about guns to hazard a guess about what it was.
It did feel odd to see an open display of firearms in a general merchandise store...
... especially given that so many other retailers have backed away from gun sales.
The last unusual aspect of the Rural King shopping experience involves a major perk: free popcorn for guests.
Anyone can grab a paper bag, fill it up with freshly popped popcorn, and munch on it as they shop.
All in all, there were a few areas of this particular store that looked a bit rough and empty, likely owing to supply chain issues.
But from the looks of their persistent messaging around hiring for open jobs, the chain appears to be in good shape.
Overall, Rural King offers an unusual but memorable shopping experience that makes it a pretty fun store to visit.
In addition to Rural King's entertaining novelties, the chain's unabashed focus on rural life renders it a helpful shopping stop for consumers with any sort of outdoor or farming needs.
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