Rugby Home of Economy holds grand opening
Home of Economy gave their new Rugby store an official welcome Saturday, May 1, with a grand opening celebration at its location on Highway 2.
The Rugby Home of Economy is the eighth store in a North Dakota chain established by M.W. “Bob” and Jean Kiesau. The Kiesaus’ daughter, Virginia, and her two sons, Scott and Wade Pearson, oversee the stores now.
Scott Pearson, who shares Home of Economy’s CEO post with his brother, was on hand at the celebration to greet customers and staff. Pearson’s niece, Lyola Pearson, who handles marketing duties, invited store visitors to spin a wheel to receive tickets for prize drawings throughout the day.
“We have our grand prize which is a Honda 420 four wheeler,” Pearson said as he walked past the wheel and table laden with prizes such as pairs of work socks and water bottles. “We’ll draw for that one at about 15 minutes before closing time tonight.”
“I do more merchandise stuff and Wade does more banking and insurance,” Pearson said of his role in the chain’s management. “We cross over a lot and we work very close together,” he added.
Pearson said each store’s inventory mix is unique to reflect the needs of the community where the stores are located.
“It has to be, but then again I know of store chains that put snow shovels in their stores in Dallas, Texas,” Pearson said. “I’ve heard of those things. They don’t pay enough attention to the locals and they do goofy things.”
Pearson said he uses information from surrounding communities to gauge shopping trends in Rugby.
“What sells in Devils Lake and what sells in Minot and what sells in Jamestown are going to be pretty good indicators of what sells in Rugby. But, for example, they all have Walmarts. So, the needs of the people in Rugby are going to be different and so we try to take that into account,” Pearson said.
Some Rugby residents who have contacted Pearson have told him they miss the variety offered by Shopko, the store that formerly occupied the Home of Economy building.
“Our product mix was not quite what it was at Shopko,” Pearson said. “We brought in some of the items we felt were important and we could do a good job with. But we have our vendors and the kind of merchandise mix we do.”
Pearson added, “There are some things that we’re not doing that maybe people want. If we hear about that, if someone wants to buy a specific thing here, they can write to our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. All those emails come to me and I answer all of them right away. Sometimes to get a proper answer it takes longer, but I answer right away and then we get back to them when we can.”
“But,” Pearson added, “I need people to tell me what they want. It’s not just that we’re listening, I’m begging for people to tell us what they want.”
Pearson said he’s been building Home of Economy’s online shopping site as well. “It’s called guaranteedlowestprice.com,” he said.
“Our website has only 20 percent of our products now,” he said, adding, “You can order online to pick up at a store.”
“For example, we have flame resistant clothing in our Watford City and Williston stores,” Pearson said. “It’s the largest selection of FR gear in the world. It’s not a big deal here but an electrician here would want it. You can order it here on guaranteedlowestprice.com,” Pearson said, noting the gear could be picked up at the Rugby store.
“Carhartt is there,” Pearson added. “Our waffle mix is there, too.”
Home of Economy stores recently added Dakota Don’s Artisan Waffle Mix to their small selection of food items.
Donald Miller, inventor and seller, was on hand to offer lightly crispy samples of waffles prepared with his mix.
Store visitors also enjoyed samples of meat cooked on Traeger grills, which the store stocks for sale.
Pearson, who said he enjoys cooking, has another event planned for the Rugby Home of Economy store. “We’re having a gator party June 23,” he said. “We’ve done it in Minot and we’ve done it in Devils Lake.”
“I cook about a six-foot alligator on a Traeger grill,” Pearson said. “We also do smoked gator nuggets and deep fried gator.”
“It’s very mild,” Pearson said of gator meat’s taste. “It’s very lean and very, very mild. No fishiness to it at all.”
Pearson said the meat would be limited to sample portions due to its popularity at the store’s gator parties. “We’ve had 1,000 or 2,000 people at several of our gator parties,” he said.
“So, we’ll cook 500 pounds of pork shoulder and make pulled pork and do another 500 pounds of bratwurst. We do beans and coleslaw and side dishes like that,” Pearson added.
“The gator parties for us are a big deal,” Pearson said. “We’ll bring in other people to help from throughout the state to help us and get some local help. We like to get a local group to help us with the serving for a donation from us.”
Pearson said his grandparents had a store location in Rugby when they purchased a North Dakota chain called TBA Stores in the 1960s.
Although the Kiesaus closed the Rugby store, they had hopes to return to Rugby again.
Pearson said his grandparents liked Rugby for “the location, filling in a gap between our Devils Lake and Minot stores. The people in this area didn’t have convenient shopping for the kinds of things we do. Me personally, apart from groceries, I almost never go to any other store. I have no need to. It annoys the heck out of me when I have to, but maybe it would be because we ran out of sprinkling cans or something,” he said.
“For a lot of people, this is the only store we need,” Pearson added. “So, I feel we can do a good job serving the needs of the people here.”
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