What it’s like to visit Rural King, a chain that sells farm supplies, guns, and live chicks — with perks like free popcorn

What it’s like to visit Rural King, a chain that sells farm supplies, guns, and live chicks — with perks like free popcorn
Rural King

Rural King has sections for firearms and live chicks.Áine Cain/Insider

  • Founded in 1960 in Mattoon, Illinois, Rural King is a chain of farm supply stores.

  • The company has stores in 13 states across the Midwest and South.

  • Insider recently visited one of those stores in Greenwood, Indiana.

Rural King is a farm supply store chain known for its eclectic mix of merchandise, which includes grass seeds, grills, auto parts, live animals, and firearms.

But to get a better feel for the shopping experience offered at the store, I visited a Rural King location in Greenwood, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis.

I visited a Rural King on a rainy April weekday in Greenwood, Indiana. Size-wise, it’s a pretty big store, selling a mix of products around farm supplies, tools, and housewares.

rural king outside exterior

I visited a Rural King just outside of Indianapolis.Áine Cain/Insider

Inside, the location has an expansive, stripped-down feel. Outside of a few special standout stops that we’ll get to in a moment, it’s a pretty average, almost industrial-looking store.

Rural King aisle hall

The Rural King that I visited was a large store.Áine Cain/Insider

A lot of the products focus around all things farming, with plenty of cost-efficient bulk offerings …

Rural King gardening supplies

The Rural King offers numerous gardening suppliesÁine Cain/Insider

… but there are also items dedicated to more universal pursuits, like gardening.

Rural King gardening supplies

The front of the Rural King was decked out with gardening supplies for spring.Áine Cain/Insider

I encountered this self-serve grass seed station. Rural King’s more interactive displays make the shopping experience more memorable.

Rural King seeds

A display of seeds inside the Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

Rural King also carries a number of different tool brands, allowing the chain to compete with home improvement and hardware stores. The company is headquartered in the city where it was first founded back in 1960: Mattoon, Illinois.

Rural King tools

Rural King sells different types of tools.Áine Cain/Insider

Walking around the store felt a bit like visiting a movie theater. For reasons that will become clear later on, much of the store smells like popcorn.

Rural King gardening supplies

Rural King is a farm supply store.Áine Cain/Insider

We walked around to practically every section in the store. Rural King sells everything from auto parts to patio furniture to outdoor appliances, like these grills.

Rural King grills outdoor cooking

Rural King sells appliances like grills.Áine Cain/Insider

There’s plenty of outdoor decor, like these ornamental seraphim …

Rural King angel statues

Angel statues lined up in the aisle of a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

… although some of those options, like poor St. Francis of Assisi here, looked kind of battered.

Rural King francis statue

A slightly broken St. Francis of Assisi figure inside the Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

There are also plenty of items that serve practical purposes for individuals and families living in more rural areas, like these owl decoys meant to deter birds.

Rural King owls decoys

Decoy owls sit on a shelf in the Rural King I visited.Áine Cain/Insider

The Rural King boasted a large apparel section, which centered around lots of heavy-duty work-related clothing.

rural king work clothing neon

The Rural King was stocked with work clothes.Áine Cain/Insider

There were also quite a few political t-shirts and hats …

Rural King t-shirt conservative gear

T-shirts for sale in a Rural King outside Indianapolis.Áine Cain/Insider

… along with some more silly designs meant to signify a “country” lifestyle. The company currently operates over 120 stores in the US, with locations scattered across 13 states in the Midwest and the South.

Rural King t-shirt chicken fowl language

Rural King sells a lot of country-themed merchandise.Áine Cain/Insider

Rural King also had a surprisingly big footwear section, with work shoes and boots, and dressier options, like these cowboy boots.

Rural King cowboy boots

The Rural King had a robust footwear section.Áine Cain/Insider

… there were even selling cowboy boots for kids.

Rural King cowboy boots kids

The Rural King I visited offered numerous types of boots.Áine Cain/Insider

In addition to larger ticket items like these vehicles …

Rural King motorcycle

The Rural King sold small recreational vehicles.Áine Cain/Insider

… and sections devoted to hobbies like fishing …

Rural King fishing equipment rods

The fishing section in the Rural King I visited.Áine Cain/Insider

… and hunting …

Rural King hunting section

Rural King offered sections dedicated to hobbies like hunting.Áine Cain/Insider

… the Rural King also stocked more standard retail fair. The grocery section in the store contained brands like MoonPies.

Rural King moon pies shelves

Boxes of treats sit on the shelf at a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

Rural King also offered an entire shelf of private label products, like jams and spiced peaches.

Rural King spiced peaches jars

The Rural King we visited sells different preserves, like spiced peaches.Áine Cain/Insider

But the showstopper section of the store — which is marked in the Greenwood location by a trail meant to look like yellow chicken-feet — has to do with the company’s origins as a farm supply retailer.

Rural King chicken feet aisle

A path of chicken feet-shaped marks leads the way to the animal section of Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

An entire row of tubs containing hordes of cheeping baby chicks — and occasionally ducklings — sits at the core of the store.

Rural King tubs of chicks

A row of buckets containing baby chicks at a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

At the Greenwood store, a memorial dedicated to a man once known as “Chicken Charlie” overlooks the tubs.

Rural King chicken charlie sign

A memorial to a person known as “Chicken Charlie” at a Rural King outside of Indianapolis.Áine Cain/Insider

The chicks are clustered around food dispensers, beneath heat lamps keeping them warm.

Rural King chicks chickens babies

Rural King sells baby chicks.Áine Cain/Insider

Each bucket represents a different breed of chicken.

Rural King chickens chicks baby

Chicks roam around inside a bucket in a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

Lots of passersby, even those with zero interest in buying backyard chickens, swing by to look at the baby animals.

Rural King chicks chickens babies

A basket of chicks gathered beneath a heat lamp in a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

There are also a variety of bunny rabbits kept in cages nearby, as well.

Rural King rabbits bunnies bunny

A bunny rabbit for sale in a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

The chicks and rabbits are definitely the highlight of the entire store.

Rural King chicks chickens babies

A close-up of baby chicks sold at a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

Signs warn Rural King shoppers walking with dogs to not allow their pets to rush the chick tubs or rabbit cases. And nearby, there’s a box of treats to help bribe dogs into behaving in the store.

Rural King dog bones biscuits

A box of doggie bone treats sits open in a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

Rural King also features a gun section that gives the location a unique feel. This part of the store had a distinctive smell, but I’m not knowledgeable enough about guns to hazard a guess about what it was.

Rural King gun target practice equipment

Equipment for gun target practice in a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

It did feel odd to see an open display of firearms in a general merchandise store…

Rural King gun section

Rural King sells all types of guns, at least at this Indiana location.Áine Cain/Insider

… especially given that so many other retailers have backed away from gun sales.

Rural King gun section

A close-up look at some of the guns sold at this Indiana Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

The last unusual aspect of the Rural King shopping experience involves a major perk: free popcorn for guests.

Rural King free popcorn

Rural King gives away free popcorn to shoppers.Áine Cain/Insider

Anyone can grab a paper bag, fill it up with freshly popped popcorn, and munch on it as they shop.

Rural King popcorn

My husband opted to get some of Rural King’s free popcorn.Áine Cain/Insider

All in all, there were a few areas of this particular store that looked a bit rough and empty, likely owing to supply chain issues.

Rural King empty shelves

Shelves sit empty in a Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

But from the looks of their persistent messaging around hiring for open jobs, the chain appears to be in good shape.

Rural King hiring jobs

The Rural King I visited is undergoing a hiring campaign.Áine Cain/Insider

Overall, Rural King offers an unusual but memorable shopping experience that makes it a pretty fun store to visit.

Rural King aisle

The view down an aisle at Rural King.Áine Cain/Insider

In addition to Rural King’s entertaining novelties, the chain’s unabashed focus on rural life renders it a helpful shopping stop for consumers with any sort of outdoor or farming needs.

rural king

I visited this Rural King in Indiana.Áine Cain/Insider

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