The Soap Box

April, 2010

JR LIGGETT'S  finds a new home. 

Grab your gear and join me on a little side trip, or a road trip if you will---to my part of the country--'fly-over' land.  It's often overlooked, disparaged, and ignored, but we've got a great feel for family, home and honesty in these wide open spaces where the land meets the sky, the song of the Meadowlark drifts across the prairies on a wild wind, and you might even run up against a rattler or two. We're going to take an easy stroll down the section line--a 'road' that's not much more than a worn trail that divides a square mile of land---land where your nearest neighbor could be more than 10 miles away, and we just happen to like it that way.
Nancy Winings, our own local resident fireball and rebel, and her husband Jarrel who are long time ranchers in this rural community, own Doggone Good Antiques & More in the small town of Chambers, Nebraska, population 333. The 'Frontier' isn't an outdated concept around here; that frame of mind---that perseverance, is still alive and doing quite well, thank you. Chambers is a bit off the 'beaten path', and around here the beaten path is probably more like your trail back and forth to the mailbox--traveled regularly, but not by many.  The store originally began in the basement of their home on the ranch as a much needed office for the Winings Guest House, a small, charming cottage which resides on their property surrounded by flowers, a fishing pond, and just a bit over the hill, a little one room cabin with your own private outhouse... talk about being 'exclusive'... but no membership is reqired at this'country club' ! Nancy, being the thoughtful hostess she is, began picking up a few antiques and collectibles for the store so her guests might have a pleasant and interesting diversion from the stress of relaxing and listening to the sounds of the Red-Winged Blackbirds next to the pond. Within a short time, her store, which carries small and large antiques, collectibles, curiosities, and an interesting assortment of dog figurines, had outgrown it's cramped location. Nancy and Jarrel who proudly subscribe to the 'build it and they will come' philosophy, decided to 'grab the bull by the horns' and up and purchased the old American Legion building in Chambers, and following a lengthy remodel, relocated their antique business in town. The grand re-opening was on April 1, 2008. Nancy says they chose that date in case their venture failed they could claim, "it was all a joke."

This spunky lady's entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy had first surfaced during her college days when she designed, sewed, and sold Western-style shirts out of her dorm room.  Unfortunately, the business came to an abrupt halt when some not so open minded college officials informed her that running a business out of one's dorm room was not allowed.  But Nancy's been a rebel from way back... a 'good rebel'.  A good rebel sees opportunities where others see road blocks.  A good rebel steps up to the plate and takes a stand for what they know in their heart of hearts is good and right.  A good rebel takes a chance, rolls with the punches, brushes the dust off the seat of their pants, and usually comes out ahead of the game.  Rebels get things done! hearing from a friend of the attributes of JR Liggett's shampoo bar and products, Nancy's can-do adventurous spirit prompted her to investigate further. Yes, JR's products would work just fine and be a perfect fit alongside her antiques---adding to them, but not detracting from them, and she would be the first person in the area to feature this new product. See, Nancy likes to take the road less traveled when it comes to what she features in her store. Your run of the mill shop owners all head to market several times a year, and they all place orders for the same stuff... not so Nancy. Right quick like, she placed an order that included 72 shampoo mini bars and then spun right around and advertised on the local radio station to promote JR Liggett's product line. She passed out the mini bars free to her walk-in store customers and local townspeople, exhausting her supply in four days--- a pretty good response considering her business is at an off the beaten path location, and yet, the people were interested and eager enough to drive the distance to try this 'new-fangled' shampoo. Nancy explains that people often have preconceived ideas about antique stores---that they contain nothing but high end furniture. She's out to dispel that sort of thinking by adding smaller, less expensive items. "When a group of ladies stop by here on a road trip, they might not need any antiques, they might not even see anything they need, but they want to purchase something to 'contribute' to the atmosphere and fun of the excursion. By carrying JR Liggett's products, it will be a great fit for under $10".
"I  see tremendous marketing possibilities for promoting JR Liggett's shampoo bar.  The old fashioned, wholesome appearance of the package design fits in well with this rural, ranching and agriculture-based part of our country", Nancy said.  A war veteran stopped in and commented that he had always wondered why shampoo companies continually tried to sell a plastic bottle containing mostly water, and a woman who is an avid backpacker and camper commented that she could see the benefits and simplicity of using the shampoo bar and was eager to try the tea tree formula next time around.  The traveling rodeo crowd is also a good prospect, as these people travel from one event to another during the summer months living out of fully customized horse trailers that contain compact living quarters.  Farmers and ranchers---another potential customer--are a down to earth, no nonsense, constantly on the go sort who don't care much for fussing with a myriad of personal cleansing and grooming products---  this all in one shampoo bar will easily fit the bill, and not break the bank!  Frugality and common sense appeals to folks around here!
She is also including JR Liggett's shampoo bar in the town's newcomer welcoming packets, plans on using the line in fund raisers, and has handed out the mini shampoo bars to her bowling league teammates, a young, college age group.  "I noticed all the ladies have hair issues; frizzy, and over conditioned, and they use a lot of products on their hair. We talked about the shampoo and they asked questions.  I told them I wanted their feedback for advertising, and now they're excited about it and feel important to be included in the plan."  Nancy was singing praises for the shampoo also as she likes the moisturizing qualities and how soft and shiny it leaves her hair. In addition, she is asking the users of the shampoo bar to critique the product and enter a drawing for a chance to win free JR Liggett products. Hey, count me in!
Possibly one of the most fun ways to expose JR Liggett's shampoo bar and products will be through the guest house located on the Wining's Sandhills ranch.  Visitors arrive from all over the United States for an opportunity to bird watch, enjoy nature and wildlife, and take advantage of an unspoiled and unpolluted night sky ripe for their own private galaxy screening, or just relax and soak up the laid back and friendly atmosphere.  This bar will fit right in with down home, local country sensibilities.

Farm Dogs.jpg

Obviously, the Wining's canine companions have influenced the business as well... Doggone Good Antiques & More also carries Fergie's Dog Shampoo.  'Ace', the resident store greeter and area spokesdog for Fergie's shampoo, is a faithful user of the product.  His main job is to meet and greet customers, so personal appearance is of the utmost importance.  Fergie's leaves his coat clean, fresh scented, soft to the touch, and very pet-able---quite critical in his line of work!  Most often, country dogs are a hard-working, hard-playing pack, getting into all sorts of dirt and mischief. Ace, along with his two buddies 'Rocket' the dachshund, and 'Shadow' the toy terrier, often put in a full day's work as ranch hands.  Nancy related how the dogs have fits over the bulls that escape this time of the year at the ranch...  "The other morning the dogs were in the living room when they spied a black bull sauntering through the front driveway. The barking commenced, and by the time I got the front door open to unleash all 3 of them, they were moving pretty fast.  They sent that bull hiking back through the stack lot, to the pen he was supposed to be in.  It was funny to see the three sizes and colors of little dogs, full speed after that bull, all yapping at full volume, but it was just as humorous to see them come prancing back after they accomplished their mission, oh so happy and proud!  All dogs should get to live in the country!"
Nancy adds, "We've participated in Nebraska's Junk Jaunt for 6 years now. It's always a huge success, and is now lauded in Country Living magazine along with Round Top, Texas, and Old Glory in Colorado.  It's the last weekend of September and is very well run.  I suggest that you start in Burwell, Nebraska which is on the northern edge of the over 300 mile course.  You'll find me and my vendors in the Parish Center in downtown Burwell.  I rent the building, and then have additional people sublet some of the space.  It's always a great show and such a variety of items!"
See, 'fly-over' isn't so boring now, is it?


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