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Finalist: PFI Western Store

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PFI Western Store works to maintain an "anything but ordinary" theme, owner Randy Little said. Boots, saddles and clothing are just a few things designed to reach customers in a new way.|ret||ret||tab|

"We certainly don't want to be an ordinary retailer; we certain don't want to be drawn into just western wear and the image of what people may think," Little said.|ret||ret||tab|

"If you walked in today, you better have been spoken to. We're not here to sell you; we're here to be nice to you. We will make certain that we're going to try and make you feel like you are walking into our house."|ret||ret||tab|

The company is a finalist for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce's W. Curtis Strube Small Business of the Year Award.|ret||ret||tab|

PFI Western Store originated in 1975 as Preferred Farmers Incorporated. Little and Larry Burks started the business by selling livestock feed in northwest Springfield.|ret||ret||tab|

As the store developed so did the products and soon Preferred Farmers Incorporated added Western Wear to its name. To help simplify the name, it changed to PFI Western Store. |ret||ret||tab|

Little said his biggest challenge with the store was his lack of retail experience in a very successful business. During the store's growing season PFI also had a mail order catalog that mailed out 8 million copies for 18 years, Little said. The catalog portion of PFI was sold in July 1996.|ret||ret||tab|

In 1993, PFI moved to its location at 2816 S. Ingram Mill Road, just off Highway 65 and Battlefield Road. Little said the move was a small risk that he didn't mind.|ret||ret||tab|

"Taking the risk financially does not affect me." Little said. "I don't mind a little bit of fear, I actually enjoy it. It keeps me motivated, it keep me sharp."|ret||ret||tab|

In the 1980s, Little became the sole owner of PFI after buying out Burks' share of the company. Burks continues to work at the store as part of the management staff, which also includes Evelyn Burks, Johnelle Little, Paul Patterson, Harold Moore and Sandy Dowlar. Little said the store's 44 employees make the store successful.|ret||ret||tab|

"People need to understand how vital it is to a small business like ours to be able to have the talent of the people we have working for us," Little said. |ret||ret||tab|

PFI works to have a strong community presence outside the store through community contributions. |ret||ret||tab|

"We work with those that can't," Little said. In 2001, PFI sponsored an outdoor concert for Camp Barnabas in Purdy to help raise funds and awareness so children facing life-threatening illnesses or disabilities could enjoy a happy summer at no expense to their families, Little said.|ret||ret||tab|

Last year PFI brought in the PBR Extreme National's Professional Bull Ride to Hammons Student Center. PFI gave $20,000 in ticket proceeds to Southwest Missouri State University. In recent years, PFI also has made donations to the Boys & Girls Town of Missouri.|ret||ret||tab|

Little said the store's future is in good standing and he continues to look back at what he has learned while preparing for the future.|ret||ret||tab|

"It's much easier to look at your failures and learn from your failures than it is from your successes. You always want to be able to be on guard and not necessarily say, Hey we are successful.' We are changing everyday. It is more about what are we going to do tomorrow," Little said.|ret||ret||tab|

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