When I arrived in Seymour nearly 25 years ago, the local business community and downtown was dotted with locally owned businesses.
My first lawnmower was purchased from Ken Pennington.
It was a small Snapper riding model with a rear engine.
When I needed a bigger one, I went to Ken and traded it, much like you trade a car.
Ken and wife Peggy owned Pennington Home & Auto on south side of the city square. When a local youth baseball or basketball team needed a sponsor, they wrote a check.
For years, I bought my gas from David Russell and later Kevin Mensik at the Conoco station at the corner of Business 60 and North Commercial Street. In my broke days upon arrival in Seymour, I once bought a set of used tires from David.
He let me charge my gas and pay the ticket monthly.
With the used tires, he gave me a month to pay him in full. Our contract was a handshake.
The same can be said for many other businesses. It would take me 20 paragraphs to list them all.
Over the past two decades, I’ve watched that landscape change. Some see it as progress.
A McDonald’s was built on the west end of town. Seymour got a Family Dollar on the square. Later came a Dollar General Store. In recent years, a Taco Bell was built on the highway.
Nadine Crisp sold her Seymour Auto Parts, which was purchased by O’Reilly Auto Parts.
Local convenience stores and gas stations disappeared.
Instead of dealing with David, Kevin or Ken Owens, Seymour’s gasoline market is controlled by a pair of Casey’s General Stores located about a half mile from each other.
If you so desire, you can theoretically own many of the aforementioned businesses.
Their respective stocks are traded publicly. Most even pay a dividend.
But few of them pay a local dividend.
These businesses seldom sponsor youth sports teams.
They typically don’t donate to community causes, such as renovating the Owen Theatre or bringing a YMCA to town.
There are exceptions.
Seymour is blessed to have a chain grocery store that is an integral part of the community. The Price Cutter, led by store manager Mike Kempton, operates like a mom-and-pop business. They support Seymour. They sponsor. They participate. They donate.
They also are an exception.
Seymour’s Walgreens follows the same model.
And that’s about where it ends.
Realize that dollars you spend at Family Dollar or Dollar General, although they chip into city coffers in the form of sales tax, are vacuuming into corporate accounts. Those dollars don’t turn here. They depart.
I won’t call out others who do the same. You know who they are. One chain store, when asked for a local contribution, told a community group their annual limit was $250.
This business, last time I checked, did more than $100,000 in monthly sales here.
We should feel blessed we have a local bank owned by a local family. If not for the Penner family at The Seymour Bank, Seymour likely wouldn’t have a YMCA. The school likely wouldn’t have functioning scoreboards on its baseball field and basketball court. Above that, Seymour certainly wouldn’t have the many locally owned businesses it does have, including this one, as the bank makes assisting small business a top priority.
Think about small business here when you shop.
I’m not as much an advocate of shopping locally as I am of shopping with businesses that are locally owned or locally involved.
Buy your boots at Kleier Farm & Home. Get your home goods and clothing at the A&J Boutique or Broncs & Babes Boutique. Go see Terry Kelley at the Circle K Trading Post. Buy a new gun from Blake Watson at Second Amendment Guns on the east edge of town. Our building supply stores, Byler Supply, Lucky Lumber and Seymour Building Supply, have local owners who support Seymour.
Buy your groceries at the Price Cutter or Seymour Discount Grocery. Get your hair cut or nails done at one of the many Seymour salons. Go antique shopping with Paula and the girls at ComeOnIn Antiques. If your vehicle needs fixed, see one of Seymour’s mechanics; if your car is wrecked, go see Logan Martin at Mr. Dent. If that car needs towed, call Corey Yates and his boys at Yates Boys Towing.
We’ve got locally owned tire shops. A locally owned trash service. Local restaurants that aren’t chains. A local propane company. I’m sure there are businesses I’ve not listed. The simple message is to trade with people who have skin in the Seymour game.
Spend those retail dollars with businesses who simply support Seymour. It’s that simple.
Leave the vacuum.
* * * * * *
Reading time, five minutes:
• Free the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Known to most by its acronym of DNR, it baffles me that after a month of prodding around in northwest Seymour, the state agency still can’t pinpoint the source of a noxious gas odor on Frances Street.
We’ve got a story on the subject in this week’s paper.
I encourage you to read it.
The situation is getting worse, not better.
That’s typical, I suppose, when big government comes calling.
In the end, let’s hope the city of Seymour doesn’t get hung with the bill.
• Speaking of the city, for those who like paying their bills online, utility customers in Seymour now have that option.
A new eBill option was unveiled last week.
Signing up for eBill is as simple as going to city hall and filling out a form. It takes two minutes, tops.
Call city hall at 417-935-4401 for more information.
• When you read the death notices in this week’s paper, you’ll see a very familiar name.
It’s the Rev. Roy Cantrell.
Simply stated, Rev. Roy and his wife, Arneata, are perhaps the finest people I’ve known in Seymour.
Roy’s life story was one Hollywood could’ve used to make a hit motion picture.
He was an 18-year-old, small-town boy sent to the European Theater in World War II. When Nazi Germany mounted its final offensive in the Ardennes of Belgium in what became known to most as “The Battle Of The Bulge,” Roy was on the front lines.
His company was overrun and stranded.
He was severely wounded.
He was frostbitten.
Only a handful of his fellow platoon members survived.
Those who did live credited Roy for keeping them alive as all were starving and wounded.
He was in a British hospital for more than a year.
He also was a hero.
Cantrell won heaps of military accolades for his actions over the course of three days in that fierce fight.
But he didn’t like talking about it.
Instead, he preferred to talk about an event that truly changed his life.
He found that in the battlefield, too.
When he returned home to Seymour, although he received an 80-percent disability from Uncle Sam, Roy was far from inactive.
He became Rev. Roy.
For the next seven decades, he preached in churches all over, most often here in the Ozarks. He spoke at thousands of funerals, presided over too many marriages to count. He also used his story to bring hundreds, if not thousands, to Christ.
That was his greatest gift.
I’m far from a perfect human and not the ideal candidate to talk about a man’s walk in faith. But as the local newspaper owner, I’ve got a front-row seat in seeing how people can make their mark in our community.
Rev. Roy did that.
He made a positive difference for many here and in other communities.
Each week, he came into the Citizen office to pick up his in-office subscription while Arneata patiently waited in the passenger side of their truck. More often than not, we gabbed for several minutes when he came.
Those talks have ended.
He’s now home.
And I’ll miss him dearly.
So will many others.
• Changing gears, I couldn’t help but notice a flier posted on the bulletin board of The Seymour Bank last week.
It was plugging a squirrel hunt.
That peaked my interest, especially when I saw the three names of the event’s organizers — Nick Collins, Josh Cook and Josh Wright.
Ten years ago, that was a far-from-boring trio roaming the halls of Seymour High School.
All three now are grown men.
Nick’s a banker, Josh Cook is a coach and teacher, while Josh Wright fixes tractors and serves on our school board.
And the final count for their Saturday squirrel hunt arrives at 2 p.m. this Saturday on the north side of the city square.
Anyone who is bored that afternoon might want to stop by and check out the scene.
I’m seriously considering it.
• Remember that 2020 season tickets for the historic Owen Theatre in downtown Seymour remain only $100 through the end of the year.
The season tickets are good for every show next year.
Every. Single. Show.
After Dec. 31, the price is $125.
Season tickets can be purchased here at the Webster County Citizen office.
Next year’s first show arrives Jan. 18 when the “Isaac Kenneth Band” plays the season opener.
Dan Wehmer is the Citizen’s editor, publisher and owner. He can be reached at 417-935-2257 or via e-mail at citizen@webstercountycitizen