We have all complained about the Big Box Stores and how their progress came at the death of thousands of small independent Mom and Pop businesses. B&B tractor sales was one of those businesses. Small, cramped with merchandise you almost always tripped over just getting to the counter, a couple a chairs, a few tractors here and there and a big storage bin lined room filled with parts for tractors. Many parts for tractors long ago rusted away, but still not forgotten; you know what we use to call inventory! It was a great place to catch up on community as well. Play with the a dog, literally a big dog, which nestled up against you until you threw the ball for him while grabbing a coffee and shaking your head at the price of new tractors. I remember lamenting over their demise last winter, but it hit me really hard this week that they were gone. I’ll tell you why.
I wrecked my lawn tractor; did a dumb thing, taking the short cut between the pines with the mower on. And as my son looked down at me lying on the ground assessing the damages, that sigh of total despair was all he had to hear. “Moms going to kill you!” To make matters worse the tractor was impaled and wouldn’t budge from the hidden stump and my parade of athletic minded neighbors walking by all got a good chuckle! Oh just shoot me now!
But not to be undaunted, I hopped into the hybrid and sped over to the Big Box Store with um-teen new lawn tractors in the front and proceeded to get my part so I could make this all go away. Silly boy, Oh so silly boy! I was told I could buy the lawn deck as long as I got the attachment. I asked what attachment and the young teenage sales assistant coyly smiled; it comes with a tractor Dude. You mean you can’t get parts here? “Nope, we don’t sell parts.” So where do I go for parts I asked? “Dude, call this 1-800 # in California. They sell them. ” Okay that wasn’t too bad. I can do that.
Turns out the place in California only sells seat cover and lights. So now firmly ticked off I called the company come Monday morning. Apparently in a move to sell more of their tractors, they were the ones who had pulled the plug on ol’ B&B, their loyal dealer for 73 years. No kiss goodnight, no long sad handshake, just lock up, and a truck will get everything next Tuesday. Better for business if we sell to the Big Box Stores, I was told. So where do I get the part? I was informed that there were some key dealers left out there that I could contact; never mind that the closest one was now almost eighty miles away! Forty times further away, than good ol B&B!
The dealer I finally came in contact with informed me that the company that made my tractor had closed thirty independent dealers around Pa and Ohio and was closing more nationally. When I asked what about parts as things wore out; well he kind of sighed and said, they weren’t worried about that problem; just sagging sales. To add insult to injury I was told my particular model of tractor wasn’t being built anymore (I bought it less that a year ago) and did I mention the new mower deck will cost half of what I paid for the tractor.
So here I am ordering the mower deck, some eighty miles from home. I passed six, count em, six Big Box Stores on the way here and dare I say not a one has a part in sight! The moral to my story I guess is this. When the world hands you lemons you are suppose to make lemonade. I got an idea that between here and home some eighty miles away, a lot of tractors are being sold and some of them are going to need parts. This sounds like a business opportunity, if I ever heard of one. I wonder what else those Big Box Stores aren’t; selling!!!!