Leeway expands store's offerings

Leeway expands store's offerings

John Danis, of Leeway True Value in North Smithfield, carries some of the product through the new, much larger agricultural storage area in the rear of the store. Fast growth in the agricultural segment of the business led to the recent expansion. (Valley Breeze photos by Tom Ward)
Growth in equine, 'ag' business spurs expansion

NORTH SMITHFIELD - It's been 36 years since Robert Leduc first opened his Leeway store at 790 Great Road. It began as a small feed and grain business to serve those with animals and livestock. Over time, Leduc added hardware items, paint, and other staples of rural and suburban life to the mix, and about 25 years ago, a nursery was added for the summer months.

All the while, his daughter Michelle was around to help out. She measures the store's landmarks in the mind's eye of a little girl. "I think we started the nursery when I was in the 4th grade," she says wistfully to a visitor. Today, the grown-up Michelle Deschamps is the company's president as her dad moves toward semi-retirement.

This weekend, from Friday through Sunday, Leeway True Value will hold a grand re-opening to celebrate the addition of new retail space and growth in its agricultural retailing. There will be sales, discounts and giveaways all weekend long to celebrate.

Interestingly, the new, added space was made necessary by growth in the "farm and ranch" segment of the business. As Deschamps took her daughter, Brooke, to the Phoenix Rising Stables on Pound Hill Road, she became more expert herself in the business of horses. Now, the agriculture portion of Leeway's business has grown, with equine trade up 70 percent in recent years. So the family added storage for more agricultural products in the rear, and took the former "ag" space indoors to provide a much wider selection of hardware items.

Says Leduc, "Now, if you come in we can help you with 90 percent of your everyday needs." Added were nuts and bolts, automotive supplies, housewares, Stihl power tools, and a much wider variety of all the goods they have provided for years. When asked what has changed most through the years, Leduc quickly replies "The prices. One hundred pounds of layer mash for chickens used to be $5.50. Today, it's $14.79 for half that much."

Keeping to its farming roots, last week Leeway offered a tutorial to the many people adding chickens and hens to their back yards. Michelle reports that 1,000 baby chicks, all "layers," are on the way for customers.

Leeway's hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The store is closed major holidays like July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The phone number is 401-765-2222.

- By Tom Ward

Leeway True Value's president, Michelle Deschamps, and her father and store founder Robert Leduc stand in the newly expanded rear of the store at 790 Great Road, North Smithfield. In business for 36 years, growth in the agricultural segment of the business has led to the recent expansion. That growth allows a much wider selection of hardware items and housewares.