Born and raised in Gentry, Ark., Larry Curran grew up going to the feed store his family ran for fun. The Curran family had bought the store in 1946.  It's been run by the same family ever since.  Larry started working at the feed store when he was in high school.  Larry’s brothers and sister would eat every meal at the table together while growing up and are still close to this day.  Larry said he feels blessed to have been able to work in and run the feed store for the last 36 years.  Today, Larry and his wife of over 30 years, Lou Ann, have feed stores in Gentry and Elm Springs, Ark., and all Larry’s children live close by.
The store moved from its original downtown location in 1961. Larry’s father had the idea to move the store after a coal plant close to the rail road burned down.  They rebuilt the floor and the roof of the old plant, and moved in.  Most of their supplies came by rail in the early days.  Having the store close to the railroad made sense.  Of course, Larry said, they use trucks these days.  “People are just not as patient as they used to be,” he said.  “They want things in days now, not weeks.”  Larry said his clientele is more diverse today than the farmers he used to serve, but he's found the main thing with customers is to just treat everyone fairly.  
“You just can’t lose focus," he said.  “We are all made of the same thing.”  Curran Feed stores employ an average of 10 people with the occasional seasonal or after school employee.
Really, in 62 years, not much has changed in the interworkings of the store. Larry still uses the equipment his forefathers used to mix, grade and weigh products.  The store still provides time-honored products for cattle, horses, pigs, chickens and other farm animals. But business has changed.  These days they also carry exotic feeds for the local wilderness safari – importing things like monkey biscuits and other non-traditional items.  Not long ago they received a call for rat food. When Larry's delivery driver returned from delivering the rat food, Larry and the other employees questioned what he had seen.  He said he saw rats, and a lot of them. The company raises rats for pet stores and labs.
With agricultural land shrinking because of development and people having to get outside jobs, the family farm is a little different too.  People have had to cut back just to make ends meet.  Farms are at a different scale than when the feed store first began.  Many products are geared to smaller or more specialized operations. However, despite the changes, Larry says he's confident there will always be a family farm, and he will work to adapt to what the local farmer needs.
Fescue seed is still one of the biggest harvests of the year in the area.  Larry said, “There are two things we can grow in Arkansas; chicken litter and fescue.”  Larry and other store employees accommodate the fescue harvest season. Larry worked long hours keeping the store open until 10:30 at night to take in the fescue seed farmers combined all day. Curran is a buying station for fescue.  They process 600,000 lbs of seed a season and then send it to seed companies putting $260,000 into the local economy.
It is this kind of service that has kept Larry's feed store a viable part of Benton County's farming industry.
The price of gas and other higher costs have caused prices of feed to sky rocket.  Larry said he used to be able to buy a load of corn for $3,000.  Now the same load costs $7,000. The price he pays consumers feel around three months later. That's just life in the agriculture industry, though. Adaptability and resilience is key.
Larry and Lou Ann are active with Gentry’s 4-H kids.  They say showing kids how to reap what they sow teaches a work ethic many kids don’t get in today’s world.  Kids have to face consequences for their actions.  "That kind of thing sticks with you for the rest of your life," Larry said.


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