“ Rural based out of town stores for the farming community. „
I work in the far east and as I was home for Xmas I thought rather than going to the Countrywide store I would shop on line. I ordered two pair of safety boots on 31/12/2013 on the 10th January they still had not arrived. I leave to return to my place of work on the 11th. I phoned, got an answer machine , I left a message. I phoned again I was told someone would call me. At 16.00 after no contact, I phoned again, to find out that the boots had today been dispatched. The chap I spoke to did apologize and tried to help me. They were quick enough to charge my card. If the boots do turn up they will be sent back.
Countrywide stores are a large chain selling agricultural and countryside related eqipment. The shops in my local area used to be called West Midland farmers, but was taken over in the mid 90's.
My local store is currently just outside the docks in Gloucester and is one of the larger stores in the county. I use this store every 2 or 3 weeks to purchase chicken feed and during the winter we also buy our coal from here.
The group of stores have ranging product lines, the one Gloucester has a much larger range than some of the smaller stores around the area. For instance in Gloucester, there is a very large equine section, convenient as Hartpury College, a large national Equine training facilitly and event location is a few miles down the road. This store also has a large clothing selection, from country gentlemans attire through to worknans overals. Also, somewhat strangely the have a large range of every household items like washing up liquid and toilet rolls. Im guessing this is so the farmer can do his weekly shop in one place, both for himself and his animals.
Prices are usually pretty consistant throughout the stores, so if you are somewhere else in the county, you know what sort of prices you will be paying. Chicken feed for a 20KG bag costs just over £6, which is reasonable when we compared to the local chicken supplier who wanted the same amount of money for a slightly smaller bag. Coal varies depending on the type, but standard house coal is usually on offer for 3 20KG bags for £21, which again is reasonable. The coal from countrywide is actually much better quality than that from 3 local merchants we tried.
There are a few items in store which I actualy find very much overpriced. The main being straw.. Countrywide sell small bags of straw for over £3 each. These bags are probably fine for people with rabbits, but not for those with other livestock. Our local farmer provides proper big bales of straw for £2.50 each. These last up to 3 weeks each, wheras the small bags from countrywide are lucky if they last 3 days. I can understand the conveinece for small pet owners who dont want bales of straw in thier garden, but when you see the price difference its hard to justify.
Countywide also has a large range of equipment including lawnmowers, chainsaws and hand tools. The prices are sometimes slightly higher than that of the big DIY stores, but in my expeience the countrywide ramges seem to be aimed at higher quality markets. I'd rather pay more for a chainsaw that lasts 10 years, than less for one that lasts only 2 years.
One particular like of our local store is the selection of wines, beers, ciders and proper country cakes. These can be pricey at over £3 for a cake, but they are lovely to eat and remind you of a proper home made cake. When I was young, a trip to West Midland Farmers, was something special, and today, although not quite as exciting as it was when I was small, its still a life line for people who need countryside related items, but dont want to travel miles to local suppliers. Yes it can be a little more expensive, but the convience outways this extra cost.
The staff have always been friendly and courteous, and will help you load your car or find items in store. There is specialist section for livestock medecine and also for the equipment, so you know you are getting somone who is trained and knowledgeable in that particular area.
They also run a card scheme, where if you spend over a certain amount in one go, you get your card stamped and after 10 stamps you get money off, which is usefull when you spend a lot in store as we do.
So whatever you need, from grass seed to chicken feed, to hen houses to sheep pens, this store has it all in one place and at prices that wont scare you away. Delivery is often available and discounts on bulk orders help lower the cost of a big shop.
Countrywide Stores is a chain of out of town hanger-type superstores based in rural farming areas. My nearest, for instance, is just outside Chipping Norton. They used to be called MSF (for Mid Shire Farmers). There quite a few others scattered across the Cotswolds and also, I believe, into the west country. A visit to one of them is a real treat - you never know what you're going to find. They stock country and agricultural clothes such as overalls, waterproof jackets, fleeces, hats, work boots, all at a wide range of prices from very low prices to very high (Puffa, Toggi). They are licensed to sell wines and ciders and also have a range of crisps and sweets and biscuits. They sell equestrian equipment and clothing for the horsey lot, and huge sacks of pet food and litter, along with feeding bowls, etc. You can buy huge packs of detergent and fabric conditioner, washing up liquid, dusters, cleaning stuff. All this must be geared for farmers' wives with huge grubby households to cater for! Some of the sizes of the products are enormous, the sort you'd see in a cash and carry, but this store is open to all, no membership required. You can buy your lawnmower here, from push along to ride-on, and your gardening stuff such as rakes, hoes, spades, forks, and you can buy your spring bulbs too. Best of all, for the transplanted townie like me, is the bizarre range of farming equipment specially for those in the know, such as strange instruments of torture for de-knackering lambs, rubber bands to tie on their little tails, various treatments for foul-sounding farm animal and horse diseases, and, best of all....pig oil! I have no idea what this is, but would trust it's for pigs and not made from them! If anyone knows, I'd welcome an email. I love this store and so does hubbie (he is into DIY) and we always pop in when in the area. You can see real country characters in there too, from old farmer chaps in shapel
ess unidentifiable clothing and cloth caps to the posh confident women who belong to the horsey set. Something for everyone! Go and see for yourself.