Down on the farm

Several chain stores that have long served the North Valley’s farmers and ranchers are closing: FISCO in Chico and Quality Farm & Country in Oroville, Red Bluff and Redding.

Quality Stores, Inc., the private company that owns the stores, is the largest farming goods retailer in the nation, but on Oct. 20 a group of its creditors filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition after they reported the company failed to make its Oct. 1 interest payment. The Michigan-based company quickly announced that it would close 133 of its 311 stores, most of them in the West.

Local store representatives couldn’t talk, and no one at headquarters would grant an interview. I went down to FISCO on Park Avenue, and the mood seemed a little somber, even as shoppers were taking advantage of prices 10 to 25 percent off. There’s no word on when the last day will be.

Tod Kimmelshue of the Butte County Farm Bureau said people seeking ranch supplies, livestock gear and similar products may feel a loss, but most farmers tend to patronize locally owned hardware and supply stores. “You can still get everything you need,” he said.

The difference

Chico State University’s chapter of SIFE—Students in Free Enterprise—was among the on- and off-campus organizations taking part in Make a Difference Day on Oct. 27. SIFE’s goal was to connect children with the college and get them thinking about civic responsibility.

“It went really, really well,” said Allison Steltzner, a marketing senior and SIFE member. About 150 people turned out, and the children enjoyed the fun workshop about growing pumpkins for profit and charity, and especially the carnival, which included a pumpkin carver and acrobatic dogs.

Steltzner said SIFE plans to put on a similar event in February for Teach a Child About Business Week.

Meaty bonanza of self-indulgence

I went “home” last weekend, to Yreka, had lots of fun, and then got lost getting back to Chico. Someone moved my freeway onramp—Highway 99 south from Red Bluff—so I took the scenic tour of Red Bluff trying to find 99 and ended up back on I-5. I gave up and took Highway 32. I get lost a lot and have to take the long way everywhere.

I’ve included, to the right, a picture I took at a Yreka shopping center: an interesting juxtaposition of patriotism and capitalism. Should I send it to Jay Leno? Please e-mail me with driving directions or general advice.