2019 Nebraska Market Profile
by Terrie Ellerbee/editor-Midwest
If you visit the Facebook page of Henderson’s IGA in Valentine—and you should—don’t be surprised to see Clint Eastwood.
He stars in a “Fistful of Brats.”
Humphrey Bogart is in another video (well, his profile anyway) titled “Burgers of the Sierra Madre.” Notable quote: “Burgers? We don’t need no burgers.”
You’ll also hear from AC/DC in “Store Wars,” a take on “Star Wars” with a goat named Chunky standing in for Chewbacca.
There is some “Johnny B. Goode” and a reimagining of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” in which “haw, haw, haw” is replaced by “hi, hi, hi,” with friendly employees waving and smiling.
You also might check out Henderson’s IGA’s latest video about coupons. It features a woman screaming and a scene with squirting blood a la Dan Aykroyd as Julia Child on “Saturday Night Live.”
The videos originally were Tim Henderson’s idea, but it was Chris Beckby in the meat department who ran with it. Some of the videos have more than 1,000 views.
Valentine, the county seat of Cherry County, has a population of about 2,800.
Henderson said Beckby is “a pretty talented guy.
“He kind of has a radio voice, so we started first doing some radio ads and then we started playing around with the videos,” he said. “He has since got some equipment and works pretty hard in his spare time. He’s really good. That’s him singing in a lot of those, too.”
Chris isn’t the only Beckby with creative talent. His wife, Dawn, is the produce manager at Henderson’s IGA. She has won multiple awards for her department, including an Honorable Mention in 2018 from the Idaho Potato Commission. She also stars in many of the videos.
Derek Hawthorne does, too. He is a meat associate. (He grills burgers and brats in some of the videos and deadpans like a pro.) Here again, Henderson’s IGA demonstrated its creative savvy and won the Associated Wholesale Grocers 2018 Excellence in Merchandising–Seafood Department award.
In other words, this store has creative juices to spare and an imaginative staff any store owner would be proud to have, and it has paid off in myriad ways. Henderson’s is an IGA Five Star Retailer again for 2019 and has been in the running for IGA’s U.S. Retailer of the Year.
Henderson may be too modest to brag about all that.
“We worked really hard on customer service, keeping a nice, clean, neat, well-stocked store,” Henderson said. “That is the minimum to stay alive anymore because there are a lot of really good retailers and a lot of non-brick-and-mortar retailers.”
An ‘oasis’ in northern Nebraska
Henderson’s IGA got its start in 1957 with Dale and Hazel Henderson along with their son and daughter-in-law, Jerry and Mary Henderson. Dale and Jerry are Tim Henderson’s grandfather and father, respectively. The Hendersons opened an 1,800-s.f. store in Valentine. The grocery store would move to other locations in Valentine and, in 1975, landed in its current spot on Highway 20. The 22,500-s.f. store was completely remodeled in 1995 and upgraded again in 2008. Last year, Henderson’s IGA got fresh paint and new décor. Henderson said the store is continually updating equipment and features.
Along with the local population, the IGA store serves the Rosebud Indian Reservation just over the state line in South Dakota, north of Valentine.
In the summer, Henderson’s IGA serves tourists who come in to float on the pristine Niobrara National Scenic River. There are no houses or electric lines blocking the view, according to a National Park Service video.
Midwest Living reports that there are more than 180 waterfalls around Valentine, including Smith Falls, the tallest in Nebraska.
For those reasons, Henderson’s IGA sells camping equipment and supplies.
“Our sales go up about 20 percent in the summertime,” Henderson said.
Sandra Renner, project associate for the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons (see story below), is familiar with Valentine, and the store made an impression on her on a recent road trip.
“I stopped at this store on a family vacation and found they had a wide variety of offerings,” Renner told The Shelby Report. “It was an oasis in a long patch of highway, and we knew we needed to stock up there as we pressed west.