FREDERICKTOWN — After some 200 years, the town of Fredericktown will no longer have an operating mill and feed store. Leve-Agriman Inc. officially closed its doors Saturday.
Leve-Agriman posted an announcement on their Facebook page Dec. 9, saying that they would close the doors when the inventory was gone. They sold out quickly of most feed and closed for the holidays after Dec. 21. They opened for three last days to sell the rest of their goods with the last business day being Jan. 4.
Leve-Agriman has been a family business for the past 42 years. In 2013, they stopped taking in bulk grain to mix and mainly dealt with supplying the local community with livestock, equine, pet and farm supplies. But it has been much more than a normal store.
“We’ve been a big, big supporter of the community,” Teresa Levering, operator of the store, said. “We’ve been a service to the community, but the community doesn’t have a need anymore.”
Levering said that they can’t compete with big box stores anymore who can offer the same products at cheaper prices. But, the big box stores can’t give people the sense of community like small businesses do.
“You don’t get the service. You don’t get the person, the personality. You don’t get the personal touch (in big box stores,)” she said. “You don’t get none of that like you do in these small businesses… (The personal touch is) the only thing we give them… And they’re going to miss that.”
Levering explained that unlike big box store clerks, the community can use the store as a source of information. She said she and her husband are knowledgeable about the products; they attend feed dealer meetings and they get educated about the products they are selling to their customers. But times have changed, and they can no longer compete with the lower prices, and due to no longer having enough customers to keep the doors open.
Levering said it’s going to be sad leaving the store but she is needed on her family’s farm. The family owns a trucking company and a 550 head feedlot that everyone works on.
“I have four grandkids so I just want to plan on spending more time with them,” Levering said.
The 110 year old mill is up for sale and Levering hopes that someone wants it and wants to use it for something and not tear it down.
Fredericktown has a long history of mills, dating back to its conception when John Kerr was given the land in 1807 on the condition that he build a mill. With the coming of the railroad in the village in 1853, a market was established by John D. Storable and by grain dealer Peter Boyer and Charles Strong and Sons. A hundred years after the village was founded, the Beaverstock Elevator was built at the South Mill location of Leve-Agriman. Just two years later, the Northwestern Elevator & Mill CO., the Fredericktown Elevator, was built at Leve-Agriman’s North Mill location.
A series of bankruptcies followed in the next 40 years and the mills exchanged hands until they both landed in the hands of Wilber C. Foote in 1954 and became one single business. A group of agricultural businessmen bought the site in 1968 to serve the area farmers, and so that the mill wouldn’t close its doors. Finally, in 1978 Bruce and Joan Levering purchased the mill from the partners, creating the Leve-Agriman business, and it has stayed family owned since.
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