WHITEWOOD | Sheet metal and square steel tubing, treated wood posts, hardware, tools, paint, bolts, nails and screws, tow straps, winter gloves, boots, jeans, jackets and coveralls.
All that, and more, is at A & J Supply in Whitewood, and it’s been there under the steady, friendly ownership of the Barker family for fifty years.
“My crystal ball is foggy. As long as I enjoy it and am physically able, I’m going to be here,” said Randee Barker, who along with an uncle Albert Grimsbo and late husband Jim bought Fritz’ Surplus from Arden Fritz and opened A & J Supply in 1968.
Since then Randee, Jim (who died 11 years ago) and four generations of family members have built A & J Supply into a regional farm and ranch store, but with a small-town feel befitting Whitewood.
They have served customers from western South Dakota, and from Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, even as far away as Minnesota and Iowa.
Taking care of their clientele has been key to A & J’s long-term success, said Randee,
“I think it’s because we listen to our customers and try to accommodate their wishes,” she said. “We try to be fair in prices and have the best prices around.”
They try to greet people by name and take an interest in their families, she said.
“That personal touch, you can't fake that,” she said.
The Barkers also operated AJ’s 2, a clothing store on Sturgis’s Main Street, for 11 years. They built an addition to the Whitewood store after closing the Sturgis location in 1994.
They plan to celebrate their golden anniversary at the Whitewood store on Saturday. Many family members who have worked at the store over the years plan to attend, along with longtime customers also spanning the generations.
“What a milestone. 50 years,” said son Travis Barker, who worked at the store through high school in Sturgis and college.
“We’re just taking it day by day, but we’re looking forward to the 60th,” he said.