Michael and Brenda Ledbetter have been the owners and operators of Camdenton Farm and Garden since 2007. They took over the store from the Claytons who opened the store originally in 1984. The Ledbetters wanted to give the building an old-west feed store appearance. Twelve years later, they are moving on.

It started as a wild herring and blossomed into a local establishment.

Michael and Brenda Ledbetter have been the owners and operators of Camdenton Farm and Garden since 2007. They took over the store from the Claytons who opened the store originally in 1984. The Ledbetters wanted to give the building an old-west feed store appearance. Twelve years later, they are moving on.

The Ledbetters moved to the Ozarks in 1984, where Michael would start practicing medicine. As the years progressed, he took on the Clayton’s as patients and told them that if they were ever in the market to sell the Farm and Garden store, he would be interested. One Sunday after that conversation, Brenda says they came to their house, sat at the kitchen table and offered to sell.

“We poured a glass of iced tea, sat at the kitchen table and decided to do it,” Brenda Ledbetter said.

Before purchasing, the couple were frequent visitors to the store, purchasing grass seed and other gardening needs. They felt it would be a natural fit for their interests and it would prove to be a good move as the store has been a staple in Camdenton for over a decade later.

But with the passing of time comes some perspective. Unfortunately, Brenda says the store ultimately couldn’t compete with online shopping. Michael says the store has tried its best to compete with stores like Amazon by providing the customer service and one-on-one attention that sets local commerce apart. There were just very few ways to beat their prices.

In another factor, Brenda says Camdenton supplied few incentives to keep ‘mom-and-pop shops’ afloat.

“It seems like, through permits and fees, they nickel and dimed us to death,” Brenda Ledbetter said.

Michael says that the way Camdenton treats its smaller, local stores has to change. He is concerned that business will continue to dry up to the point where local commerce is purely retail. He says he noticed the biggest change in business revenue around three years ago.

Even with the hard times, Brenda says she would never have traded the experience. She says the people they have been able to meet and the farmeres coming in and out with advice and stories was worth it. She says the community surrounding the store was one of the best aspects of keeping it going as long as they did.

Another factor she sites is the experience it was able to provide her children. She says they would work behind the register or even come in when school was snowed out. The things they in particular have been able to learn was worth the trip.

“They run forklifts, helped place orders, it’s an experience that is hard to get anywhere else,” Michael said.

Though it’s a bittersweet feeling leaving behind over a decade of work, there is a major silver lining around the situation that is helping the Ledbetters ease the transition. As the store closes, a new tenant has already been found that is a personal friend of the couple.

Only a few buildings down sits the Dogwood Animal Shelter Thrift Store. This store is constantly packed with patrons and takes the money made from sales and injects it into the Dogwood Animal Shelter. The location has been running low on space for years, which is why Michael reached out to them first about taking over the Farm and Garden location.

Donna Morris, director of Dogwood Animal Shelter, says that the Ledbetters have always been big supporters of the shelter and was thrilled to hear about their offer. As costs go up for the shelter to operate, Morris says they have had to put a heavy emphasis on sales at the thrift store.

The thrift store has been in its current location since 1997 and she says they have utilized every inch of the store.

“The store is by far our biggest fundraising effort that the shelter has going,” Morris said.

The store accepted the offer from the Ledbetters and will be moving into the Farm and Garden location as soon as they officially close on July 31. That being said, Morris doesn’t anticipate the store opening for business in the new location until September.

Even though it was hard to say goodbye to a decade of service, both Brenda and Michael are thrilled to see the location turn into a service and local commodity that they both support. Though Michael will not be retiring from his practice in town anytime soon, Brenda says she is looking forward to retirement and spending more time with her family.