Thursday, March 5, 2009

Three-in-One in Norwich

Yesterday I was on assignment with First Generation Video. We were filming for a DVD on "how to explore." An Explorer had told me that good things were happening in Norwich so we made that our first stop. Norwich is in southeast Kingman County on K-42.

The Main Street Hardware is at 2nd and Main and that's where you'll find an abundance of good people and good energy for Norwich, a city of about 540.

The source of this abundance is Sondra Nickell. She is the owner of the hardware store and manager of forward motion in Norwich. There is so much to tell about Norwich but we'll just start with the hardware store, I mean the grocery store, no, I mean the post office. Oh my. I'm not really confused. It's just that they are a three-in-one deal.

The hardware part of the store offers all sorts of regular hardware, paint, tools, and lots of lumberyard type items.

The town lost their grocery store a couple of years ago so the back section of the hardware store is devoted to groceries. The Cheney grocery store lets Sondra buy through him -- the only way it would be possible for her to get such a small amount of groceries. The young mothers and senior citizens couldn't appreciate this effort more. They even have a couple of coolers, featuring frozen meat packaged in Kansas!

The story keeps getting better. A short time ago, Norwich was on the losing end in a battle with the federal post office. The post office was closed because of mold -- allegedly. Despite great efforts to save the post office, it's hard to beat a federal system that rewards employees for closing post offices. But, Norwich didn't give up. They are one of the few towns in the state (are there others???) to end up with a contracted post office. A CPO.

What this means is that the hardware store also houses the post office! And hardware store employees run the post office. There is an outside door where the public can come in 24 hours a day to get mail out of their box. During day hours, they can buy stamps and send packages at the hardware store post office. We are grateful for this option though it means the system doesn't have to pay an employee with federal benefits. But, we'll take it. At least Norwich has a post office and didn't have to lose their zip code.

There is so more to know about this town. The 3-in-1 post office, grocery store, post office is enough to absorb for now.

By the way, Sondra and her employees are about as friendly and helpful as you can find. What a pleasure to step into the Main Street Hardware Store.

If you're wondering how one can make a living at this, just know that Sondra is a flood adjuster and that's how she makes everything else work. She spent about three months in New Orleans.

Why would a person do this? Because they love their hometown. Understanding why you'd work this hard, so willingly just to keep a small town viable will help you "Get Kansas."

KE #2 Marci Penner

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