Small town, big business |


If you think your small town will never be on the map, take a look at Pawhuska, Okla., Population, 3,636. This is the town where The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, opened her business called The Mercantile. Ree and her husband, Ladd, bought a vacant building and worked with a contractor on the renovation.

The success story began in 1996 when Ree married cattle rancher Ladd, a member of the Drummond family who had ranched in the area since 1913. They had four children over the next 10 years and Ree was very busy cooking for the family, being a ranch lady and homeschooling. She started a blog about her recipes and ranch life in 2006. Since then, she has written and published seven cookbooks / photos, including her latest The Pioneer Woman Cooks ― Super Easy! : 120 Shortcut Recipes for Dinners, Desserts, and More which will be released on October 19th. His two books on his courtship and his youth at the ranch gave readers a glimpse into his personal time. Drummond had written several books on Charlie, the ranch dog, “easy readers” for young people.

The Merc, as it’s called, employs some 165 people and has three distinct sections: the merchandise floor, the upstairs bakery with its large open floor plan, and the restaurant. The architecture of the building lends itself perfectly to a family ranch celebration based business as it has old wood floors, is spacious and welcoming. If you can’t get there, the Merc offers online sales.

The inspiration for these achievements comes from the Drummond Cattle Ranch. This is the subject of his books and his television cooking show on the Food Network, which debuted in 2011. The latter is filmed at the ranch and features scenes from their daily lives as well as the kitchen itself. Drummond’s cookbooks are abundantly illustrated with his own photographs. As she works on each recipe, there are photos of each step that are especially helpful for new cooks and others learning new techniques. The photos of the ranch are simply spectacular. Drummond shows the manure, marks and common activities of his family around the ranch.

Drummonds opened The Boarding House 18 months after the trade. Billed as an eight-room “cowboy luxury” hotel, it is just a few doors down from the Merc. To change the pace of the palate, another Drummond company is P-town Pizza, which features a wood-fired brick oven and an intriguing menu. It’s not just pizza and beer; a varied assortment of wines and signature cocktails are offered.

Educating the public about how beef is raised and how the family workforce is engaged in ranch work is one of the reasons Drummond is successful. His down-to-earth, self-deprecating writing style is folkloric yet informative for those new to ranch life. It is likely that its followers increased their consumption of products grown by agricultural producers due to its simple but varied recipes.

Le Merc also offers its range of kitchen utensils, tableware, kitchen linens and other accessories, as well as much more, including hospitality. It’s more than a store, it’s an experience. I have been there and am ready to go back.

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