With all the niche markets in the world today, it makes perfect sense to have a niche for people who live in rural areas. The needs of farmers and ranchers are much different than that of a computer programmer or web designer. To fill that niche is the largest retail store in the United States that targets people who live a rural lifestyle. Tractor Supply Company has 1700 stores that are located in every state except one (Alaska) and is headquartered out of Brentwood, Tennessee. It is also a publicly held company, trading on the NASDAQ with the ticker symbol TSCO.
Since most city dwellers are not likely to have heard of Tractor Supply Company, we have compiled a list of 20 items that are intended to surprise, enlighten, and perhaps even amuse those not familiar with the rural lifestyle. But all the information is useful should you have the need to stop in and a local store and get some supplies that will require you to get down and dirty.
1. They do not sell tractors.
Based on the name, you would think that tractors of all sizes and types would be high on their inventory list. But in fact, it is the one item they don’t sell. There are several reasons for this oddity. First, their large inventory requires them to know a lot about a lot, and for the rural types a tractor is one of the most important pieces of equipment a farmer or rancher can own. So they chose to leave that item to the experts who specialize in selling tractors. Second is that tractors require a large amount of space to showcase and store (if you don’t believe this poke your head into a Walmart that does sell the smaller versions of a tractor). There are other reasons, but these are two of the most practical ones.
2. Their annual revenues exceed $7 billion.
Those who are distant from the rural lifestyle may believe that many of the supplies and equipment used by rural types are bought at Farmers Markets, local stores, roadside stands, or auctions. But Tractor Supply Company is often a one stop shopping venue for everything a farmer or rancher might need. You might think of it as a rural Walmart (though there is such a thing as Walmarts in rural areas). When you consider the company does not sell tractors, that $7 billion figure is a sizable chunk of money.
3. They lay claim to being the inventors of the do-it-yourself trend.
This is a bold claim by a company, but they have their roots planted back in 1938 when first selling tractor parts by mail order catalog. But rural types are by nature do it yourself people. If something goes wrong with a wire fence or a water well, they need to fix it immediately or it will negatively affect their normal lifestyle. That requires both the knowhow and the tools required to get the job done. This makes Tractor Supply the place to go.
4. You might be led to believe they are competing with Walmart.
It is said there is a tool for every job (like there is an app for virtually everything) so when you compare this list to what you can find at a Walmart, you may not immediately see much difference:
- pet supplies
- tractor parts and accessories
- lawn and garden supplies
- sprinkler parts
- power tools
- welding and pump supplies
- riding mowers
But when you look at what these items are used for, you likely will not find exactly what you are looking for at a Walmart.
- repairing wells
- building (not just repairing) fences
- welding gates together
- constructing feed bins
- taking care of livestock
- repairing tractors and trucks
- building trailers for hauling
If this seems like two different worlds, you are grounded in reality.
5. They could use some updated training for their store clerks.
This may or may not be an isolated incident, but it is a true story. Local television station KDKA in Pennsylvania reported that a Tractor Supply Company store was robbed of $710. The Somerset Township store was robbed at approximately 4 p.m. by two females who approached a clerk and asked for money. No weapon, no threat of force, and no resistance from the clerk? Employee safety is a very important issue but two females just asking for money and the clerk just gives it to them? This whole incident is debatable, but there are other reports of Tractor Supply stores being robbed that have made the news in recent months.
6. Their credit card for individuals has a ton of features and benefits.
The company has its own credit card for individuals and businesses. The individual card has a couple of introductory offers for new card applicants - $15 off your first purchase of $15 or more and a 5% discount on purchases over $1299. There are the usual terms and conditions but this is a case where cash in hand is better than rewards points or 2% cash back. They also have a tiered system of interest free periods based on whether you spend $199, $399, $1299, or $6999. That’s something you don’t find on many credit cards as a standard feature.
7. Their business store credit card is all business.
While there are companies who offer credit cards to businesses that are almost identical to individual cards in terms of benefits and usage, Tractor Supply’s business card doesn’t list many benefits based on its website. What they do offer is a dedicated line or credit and a customer service number that is not the same as for the individual card. They know the difference between a customer who is buying for the smaller jobs and the one whose livelihood depends on the supplies they buy from a Tractor Supply store.
8. Their company website has a Know How Central web page.
If you want to know the latest updates from government directives or how to raise chickens, you can find the information you need on this menu option. It is not a place for general information but you not only get the information you need but the supplies you need to accomplish the job. No short blurbs here for entertainment purposes or click bait. Sometimes you find almost the entire page filled with topics and subtopics of an important farming function, such as how to properly seed your property.
9. They are open every day of the year, except the “big four” holidays – New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
They do recognize the holiday seasons evidenced by the fact they have Black Friday sales. But other than the “big four” they are open because their customers are people who often work 7 days a week, even though their work may be only seasonal. As a general rule they are open just before the sun rises and close an hour or so after the sun sets. The reasons for this are obvious to the rural denizen.
10. If you order online, you cannot ship to Alaska, Hawaii, or Canada.
Alaska seems to be out of luck when it comes to Tractor Supply stores, but as for Hawaii and Canada the problems are the prohibitive cost of shipping, handling, and restricted items. You can use PayPal to pay for your online orders and send them anywhere in the United States. It likely has to do with sending orders via the local stores to their destination. The same restrictions apply to post office boxes, and APO and FBO addresses.
11. Be careful when opting for their Power Plus product protection plan.
This is not saying it is a bad choice but you need to carefully read what is and is not covered before spending the extra money. The plans range from 1 to 4 years and the coverage is based on the individual price of each item. Products costing more than $300 have better coverage, but do not have the Accidental Benefit protection available for products less than $300. The best feature of the Power Plus plan is coverage of normal wear and tear, power surges, and environmental factors for all purchased products.
12. Your local Tractor Supply store may not drop their in-store price if the same item on their website is available for a lower price.
This does seem to be strange, but according to the company’s website the store manager has sole discretion on whether to accept the lower online price or charge you the store’s listed price. One reason for this policy is that the online store may be trying to dump excess inventory from other stores, so buying it locally may defeat the purpose of the online sale. Another possible reason is that by doing so the purchase would cause the profit margin of the store to take a hit. In any event, call your local store to find out about the price policy before heading out.
13. Promotional codes and coupons are accepted whether you shop online or in-store.
This item was added to the list to make it clear that the lower price policy does not affect the company advertised promotions. This is one of the best times to go to your local Tractor Supply store and look for some significant price differences between online and in-store products. There are some items that the policy does not apply to, so check the company’s FAQ website for complete details and restrictions.
14. They have recently launches an online Autoship program.
The way it works is similar to Amazon’s Prime Pantry option that allows you to ship a quantity of regularly used household items on a self-assigned schedule. Your card is charged and the items shipped without you having to do anything. Currently the only products that are available for the program are cat and dog and general pet supplies. However, they are working to expand this option depending on the demand from customers.
15. The average Tractor Supply Company stores has about 15,000 square feet of interior floor space.
This is actually small when compared to an average Home Depot store (50,000 square feet) or Walmart Supercenter (105,000 square feet). Given they advertise to have “everything” farmers and ranchers need, it is fair to ask what exactly is “everything.” The average Tractor Supply store has an additional 15,000 square feet of exterior space but even with the addition it is still smallish by comparison. But considering their consistent sales numbers, “everything” to a rural lifestyle is very different than a city dwellers needs.
16. They are the creators and owners of the Petsense pet supply stores.
There are over 180 Petsense stores around the country, and it is a natural extension of their rural business model. While most city dwellers don’t have a heifer or bull in their backyard, a pet in a rural area often serves as a herder and protector of various livestock. Taking care of dogs and other pets that help with the work is more of an investment than an expense. That makes Tractor Supply an experienced partner for anyone who owns a pet.
17. They continue to open new stores, the latest on November 21, 2018.
Valley Center, California, made a lot of noise about the grand opening of a Tractor Supply store in the communities of Valley Center, Pauma Valley, Pala, Palomar Mountain, and North Escondido. This is the type of area where the company strategically places its stores to maximize their usefulness and effectiveness. The company also has been approved to begin construction of a store in Warrenton, Oregon. Currently the company employs more than 29,000 people, and it has a stock price of $89.00. These are all signs of a stable and growing company.
18. The company is an advocate of finding homes for dogs, cats, and other pets.
City folks generally think of a shelter as a place to find dogs and cats a home. Tractor Supply recognizes the diversity of pets and supports a number of animal causes, including looking to place animals in shelters who are looking for a home. The holidays are often the time when they personally sponsor local programs to help connect wannabe pet owners with the homeless animals.
19. The company consistently supports the role of women in the workplace.
While the idea of rural is commonly thought to be bib-alls and boots, the company’s Board of Directors have three women who have been nationally recognized by Woman, Inc. magazine as 2018 Most Influential Corporate Directors. The women, Cynthia T. Jamison, Edna K. Morris, and Denise L. Jackson, all serve as active members of the board influencing the day-to-day operations of the company.
20. One of the Internet’s most widely read financial newsletters is bullish about the company’s short term future.
The Motley Fool has high praise for both the earnings potential and future direction of the company, noting that even though costs increased the business was still able to manage a higher quarterly profit on a year-to-year comparison basis. The most recent common stock dividend announced by the board of directors was $.31 per share for shareholders on record as of the close of business, November 22.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker