Main Street Kansas: ‘Small and mighty’ Norwich sees boost in small businesses

The downtown area of Norwich -- a small Kansas town with a population of about 500 -- is buzzing with local businesses. (Photo courtesy KSN News)

NORWICH, Kan. (KSNW) – While many small towns are struggling to survive, one Kansas community is thriving thanks to a downtown full of businesses.

Norwich is a town of about 500 people in Kingman County, and the community is defying the odds.

“The town didn’t have a grocery store for 15 years,” said Brent Bradley, owner of Eagle Grocery in Norwich.

It’s what every small town needs, but so many don’t have. Brent Bradley opened Eagle Grocery in Norwich and it’s the newest addition to the thriving downtown.

“We made it like the town,” said Bradley, “small and mighty.”

Brent Bradley keeps prices competitive by ordering from a wholesale supplier, but to meet the minimum required, he has to partner with a grocery store in Conway Springs. It’s with that teamwork that keeps the town buzzing with business.

“My husband started keeping bees when he was 10 years old,” said Sharon Rowan, owner of Rowan’s Honey Shop.

The state’s only honey shop was one of the first stores in Norwich, and now attracts customers from all over Kansas and the region.

“Then I’ll say be sure to go down the corner for lunch because we have an old-fashioned soda fountain. Or if you need t-shirts, go to Brick House Designs,” said Rwan. “We pass our customers on to each other.”

Karen Poindexter started her business, Brick House Designs, at the urging of another store owner. Then the domino effect took off.

“It’s just gradually, each building has filled up,” said Poindexter.

As the downtown grows, so does support from local shoppers.

“People try to find whatever they’re looking for locally before they go out-of-town to get it,” explained Norwich Mayor Jake Power.

The community is working together to build a solid economy and a future for the next generation.

“We’re important and we matter and we want to survive,” said Susan Young, Kingman County Economic Development Council. “Well done Norwich!”

Norwich also hosts a big event in April that brings a lot of people to town. It’s the drag races on Main Street. Close to 2,000 people come for the weekend and are often surprised at all the area has to offer.

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