Lawrence Co. business helps farmers flourish

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 7, 2000

MONTICELLO — Tucked just off Highway 27 ten miles south ofhere, a local business has been prospering since 1977.

Plunkett’s Farm Supply and Greenhouses has been a stopping pointfor residents of southern Lawrence County for nearly 25 years. Butit made the leap into attracting county-wide business with severalexpansions that began in the mid-80s.

It opened as Divide Handy Stop, a small country conveniencestore selling groceries and gas, according to Thomas Plunkett, whopurchased the store from his parents in 1985.

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Plunkett said he immediately added a line of feed to the store’sitems. The feed sold well and in 1989 he opened his own feedmill.

“It’s the only one in Lawrence County that I’m aware of,” hesaid.

Plunkett’s, as the store is commonly referred to, now sellsNutrena feeds and its own line. His own line features feed forcattle, horses, pigs and chickens.

Prior to the feed mill, in 1987, Plunkett built the business’sfirst greenhouse. He said they concentrated primarily on vegetableplants at the time.

The greenhouse did well, he said, so they built a second onethree or four years later. They added a third last year.

“We’re headed more towards bedding plants now,” Plunkett said.”We do a big business on bedding plants, but I don’t know if we’rethe biggest nursery around here.”

Every fall, he said, the store stocks more than 2,300 mums thatare usually ready for sale in September. Pansies and Snapdragonsare also strong sellers, he said, and are usually available nearthe end of September.

The feed mill and greenhouses, however, have not decreased thein-store business, he said. Plunkett shifted from groceries toproviding snacks, drinks, hardware and plumbing, lawn and gardenand pet supplies.

Plunkett said that his business is split fairly equally amongits three parts and said his success is because of hiscustomers.

“I feel like we have a pretty loyal customer base,” he said. “Ithink that’s probably why we’re still here.”

Plunkett’s draws customers from a wide area because of itsvariety and the care the owners put into their products. Loyalcustomers come from Monticello, Walthall County, Columbia andMarion County. He said a few even come from as far away as Lincolnand Pike counties.