Margaret Phillips of Fountain Hill, Arkansas is the proprietress of L. M. Phillips General Merchandise, a store founded by her late husband and brother-in-law in 1925 in Fountain Hill. Maggie, a precocious Border Collie (a given), is Margaret’s keeper. This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. To see more pictures and get in on the start of the story, click here, a very cool thing to do.
When I first set foot in Maggie’s territory she gave me a welcome like I was Attila the Hun with my band of merry barbarians in trail. Fortunately, Maggie and I set a new indoor record settling our differences and I was able to converse with Margaret Phillips and her assistant, Denise Musgrove.
Equally fortuitous, for both of us, Maggie discovered that I was a willing scratchor and pettor and she already knew she was a willing scratchee and petee.
Occupying a former bank premises, the store is typical of a lot of country stores, with the exception fresh foods. What they miss on that, they more than make up for with a variety of hardware, plumbing supplies, and other stuff they’ve discovered folks want. It is said that marketing is: “finding out what folks want, and giving them more of it … and finding out what folks don’t want, and giving them less of it.” Apparently the Phillips store is working that theory better than most.
The store was doing a brisk business on the Saturday afternoon of my visit. The prevailing mentality of customers I observed was one of not merely a trip to “the store,” but the manifestations of one visiting with a cherished friend. Now ain’t that something in this day and time of fast food and the cattle-herding mentality demonstrated by far too many retailers. Maybe that’s why they’re still in business while others are long gone.
My business concluded in Fountain Hill, I sallied forth on the long way back home, hoping for at least one more photo opportunity. My search did not take long to become fruitful. Near the Prairie Grove community northeast of Fountain Hill I encountered John Cruce, driving two mules and a wagon.
For his day job, John Cruce is the proprietor of a prosperous saw-mill business. For fun, John has nine mules and keeps them because that’s what he wants to do so. The nearby city of Crossett puts on a fine PRCA rodeo the first week of August. John will drive his team and wagon from the Prairie Grove Community to Crossett and participate in the parade and a performance of the rodeo and return home.
The trip to Crossett by vehicle takes 45-minutes to an hour or so depending on the lead in your foot. In a mule drawn wagon, it’s a three-day trip. John loads his wagon with feed for the team and heads out. They overnight at several friend’s deer camps between Prairie Grove and Crossett.
While I was visiting with John, the white mule began to act a bit nervous. John didn’t seem to be deeply concerned, but we both agreed that she might be a bit more at ease if I was in the wagon instead of standing beside it. In the process, John noticed that her bridle was twisted. He fixed that and the problem was solved. In the meantime, I had the opportunity to see how it was to ride shotgun on a mule drawn wagon. There’s a first time for everything.
Earlier in the day, I saw Drew Presbyterian Church, just north of the Drew-Lincoln County line. At the time, the sun was not in the right place for a decent shot. The good news is the front of the church faces due west, so the sun angle was predictable later on.
The timing was right. My seven-fold amen for the day was at the church about 1730 (Mickey’s little hand is on the five and his big hand is on the six) or there about. The start of the golden hour this time of year. Actually in July, the golden hour lasts about three hours or so depending on what’s in or out of a shadow. Ain’t life grand!
Thanks for dropping by,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
Filed under: Behind the Scenes, but wait, there's more | Tagged: Arkansas, Border Collie, Corndancer dot com, country stores, Crossett, Drew Presbyterian Church, golden hour, Maggie, marketing is, mule, mule drawn wagon, mules, old bank safe, team and wagon | 4 Comments »