Buchheit Territory in Herculaneum, Missouri

A Local Standard

Buchheit has been a well-known name in these parts for seventy-seven years. Many words have been written about the family; Rudy Buchheit, the 1934 farmer-turned-entrepreneur; and the country supply store he began in a vacant saloon building. So what more can I add? Plenty.

I have been a customer of Herculaneum Buchheit for about fourteen years now. Each time I return, I find the same magic. Even though a vacant, crumbled concrete lot is across the street from the store, the surrounding hills are densely covered by mature trees and add beauty to the area. On the front lot is a metal farm wind pump. Stop by it and listen to its unique straining, squeaking song. The rhythm slows the pace of my heart. My breathing relaxes as I picture a time in days gone by when wind pumps provided essential, life-giving water to farm animals and crops and country-living families.

Farm Wind Pump With A Song

The store is large yet not so large as to feel like a separate planet of its own like some mega-stores today. The fluorescent lighting is subdued and colors are neutral, lending a peaceful effect. The staff doesn’t fawn. There is no greeter at the door – and need not be. The employees have always seemed to realize as long as they serve customers well the store will remain open for business. Their attitude has not changed over the years.

Saloon Size to SuperStore

Think of any do-it-yourself (DIY) store today and now bring that thought down home. Buchheit has all the building supplies you could need, for both indoors and out; plumbing, electrical, bathroom and kitchen cabinets, patio stones – you name it. But I bet you won’t find a live turkey in a modern DIY store. No, nor chickens or rabbits, either.

City-raised, the first time I went into Buchheit Territory and saw plaid shirts and overalls for sale and heard repeated crows of roosters, I knew I was in for a new experience. As if the hint in the parking lot was not enough. Someone had brought two adult goats along in the back of their pick-up truck. My city dog was beside himself – what are those beasts? I left him in the car to keep watch over those “foreigners”.

Inside, I followed the crows of the roosters and expected to see half-neglected animals, only to find elaborate, wooden shelters for the critters and warming lights to keep the chicks at optimal temperature. They were supplied with food and water, as well. Just to have these animals so close for study and admiration made this shopping experience an adventure. On return visits, I look in on the current populations. These substantial, well-built animal shelters are available for purchase, too.

Other things you won’t find at the big home improvement stores are horse tack, leather cowboy boots, and gun and hunting supplies. And taxidermy! Buchheit serves rural America. Many of the shoppers are local residents and unlike most people in larger, metropolitan areas, are approachable and friendly.

After I took a picture of a huge, plastic horse advertising a turnout blanket, I saw a woman customer and heard her laughing as she was looking at me. I turned and addressed her, “Where else can you find a huge, plastic horse?”

Life-Sized Plastic Sales Horse

She laughed again but otherwise was silent. As I was walking toward her, I saw mounted animal heads, whole fish, foxes, pheasants and ducks on the opposite wall and squealed, “Or those!” and positioned my camera to take a shot of them. The woman was beside me by this time and was laughing again.

Well, I knew she had a sense of humor so I spoke to her. “Isn’t this a fun place?”

She was a cheerful person but admitted she never quite saw it that way. “Oh, but it is,” I said. “Look at those cowboy boots and chickens around the corner and bags and bins of feed for animals. You can’t find these kinds of things just anywhere.”

Still with a smile on her face (her name was Rose), she said, “You know. You are right. I read an article in Countryside Magazine about using your oven for canning and Buchheit is the only place I could find half-gallon canning jars!”

On another occasion, I saw a couple with three baby goats in their shopping cart. I was thrilled and amazed. Of course, I approached them for a conversation. The woman explained, “The babies need to be fed every two to three hours. I just couldn’t leave them at home alone.” What a great policy of the store management to allow our other loved ones to accompany us.

That policy also gave me one of the nicest experiences of my life. I have never been so near a baby goat before – these were about the size of a large cat, with longer legs. They had tiny hooves and were as friendly as any small child or your own pet dog. Each one vied for position to balance their hooves on the cart frame and to paw at my shirt. Their horizontal, rectangular-shaped pupils piercingly searched my face. What fun these little beings were!

The entry walls and doors of Buchheit are covered with orange cards – a promotion they are hosting – Pounds for Paws – for every $1 raised, Buchheit will donate four pounds of pet food to a local animal shelter. Just a promotion? No, I say – that shows heart.

A Sampling of Donation Cards at Buchheit Entry Vestibule

The next time you are down Herculaneum way, stop and shop at Buchheit. You will find the friendly atmosphere comforting and you will enjoy the originality of the place. Prices are below average, too. Just don’t forget to spend a few quiet minutes listening to the rhythmic squeals of the metal wind pump outside – it will cast a spell on you and soothe your spirit.

 

 

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. steven edwards
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 18:09:34

    Guess what is better than this visitors eye on the store? I work here everyday and get to see allot of these customers daily or weekly. yes, listen to the windmill. In the spring, come see the chicks, ducks, geese and even listen to the gobblers and roosters. occasional weekends, you can come in and meet maybe your new family member with our dog adoption!!! Canines for Crisis bring allot of their dogs hoping to find new homes. Oh and bunnies, we have those also. I don’t see those at other stores but you have to realize, Buchheits is not just one of those stores. come on in and say hi. And bring in your kids for a little treat and bring the dogs too for their little treats. hope to see you there. Steve

    Reply

  2. Margo Dill
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 22:46:15

    On a side note, I was just in Herculaneum TODAY! 🙂 I helped a friend move her counseling office in Festus. Annette: your blog is terrific and I am glad I am going to be working with you!

    Reply

  3. Megan
    Oct 05, 2011 @ 21:22:21

    As a member of the Buchheit family, I have to say that I absolutely love your blog, and I really appreciate that you understand the heart of what we are about as a business. Thanks for the kind words!

    Reply

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