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My Annual Pilgrimage to Farm and Fleet

FF photoIt has become a tradition in our family to head over to the local Farm and Fleet in Baraboo, WI when we visit our family’s cottage.

Farm and Fleet has a lot of significance to me. When I was a kid, my mother worked there. You could say that Farm and Fleet fed and clothed me, and put me through school. I’m hooked.

Farm and Fleet is the most fascinating store in North America, in my humble opinion. It is like a Wal-Mart, only a lot folksier. They sell all manner of goods, from lawn tractors and jerky-making kits to ladies sportswear and farmer’s overalls. There’s a section for all types of farm animals. It is like a Canadian Tire, only 3 times larger. And they sell candy. My God, the candy! Their selection is absolutely awesome and includes things hard to find elsewhere like maple nuts, cashew clusters, salt water taffy, lemon drops and spearmint leaves, all Farm and Fleet brand.

They were one of the last retailers to accept credit cards. They still have change machines at the end of the register.

When I was a kid they had a legendary lay-away program for toys for Christmas. Their gift section spans many aisles.

Their look and feel is reminiscent of a seventies dime store.

It smells like tires.

They sell a lot of things with the American flag on them.

People come and choose among the selections by the price.

The place is almost always mobbed.

I have lived in urban areas for more than half of my life but the farmer’s granddaughter in me has never left. Whenever I am there though, I am reminded of the expression “different strokes for different folks”. I’m sure my friends back in Toronto would find no appeal in a store that sells weed killers by the barrel.

The expression “different strokes” applies also to HR. We need to be mindful that what works in the city, in large companies, in the private sector, is not always effective in small towns, in small companies or in public companies. Global HR is a farce. From the simple choices of technology to the quantity or composition of policies, we need to be careful to marry the right things together, to customize the service to the circumstances.

What have you learned about what will work in your element when you’ve been out of your element? What will you explore today?

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