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Feeding the entrepreneurial spirit


PHILLIPSBURG -- While many her age are just starting to climb the career ladder, Nikki Brobst is her own boss.

Brobst, 22, opened her own business, Farmers and Ranchers Outlet, the first of December.

A local 4-H member raised on the family ranch -- the Bar Diamond Ranch -- Brobst has known many of her customers since she was a child. She also was named the Phillipsburg Rodeo homecoming queen in 2008 and has been active in rodeo at Fort Hays State University.

After graduating from FHSU in 2011, she worked on the family ranch and sold seed. That led to her opening the ranch supply store on the edge of town.

"The sales rep for the feed company talked me into opening it up here," she said.

Brobst received a Phillips County Economic Development grant, an E-community loan and Start-up Kansas loan from Network Kansas. She also used the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, a county property tax rebate program, for her new building, Jeff Hofaker, PCED director, wrote in an email.

The large building provides plenty of storage space and room for expansion.

The store's inventory includes tack items such as ropes, bits, spurs, fencing equipment, animal health supplies and vaccines.

The feed line includes dogs, cats, horses, cattle, sheep, swine, rabbits, "almost anything you can get feed for, we can get it."

Bulk feed for livestock comes direct from the feed company and is delivered to the farm site.

She also offers custom signs by Kristen Minkler and her own custom leatherwork. Samples are on display at the store.

"When it's cold outside, they work really good," she said of the custom chaps she wore working cattle at the ranch.

Store hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

As owner and sole employee of the store, "it turned out to be quite a handful by myself," Brobst said. "I call Dad (Darrell Brobst) in to run the store if I have to do stuff."

Her mom, Deb, and brother, Adam, also help out when needed.

The biggest challenge to owning a business isn't schedulding time off though, it's "figuring out what everyone uses. I have an idea what we use, but everyone else is different."