Sid’s Grocery
The last grocery store in town. Named after its owner and operator of 30 years, Sydney “Sid” Buford, Sid’s is currently in the final stages of closing down. Its prices have always been higher than most–thanks to Sid successfully driving away his competitors in town–and a major embezzlement scandal by employees stealing lotto winnings has only brought negative publicity. Once it closes at the end of August, Higbee will be left with no grocery stores at all, forcing locals to drive to a Wal-Mart 15 minutes away or buy from the local Dollar General.

An independent gas station, sliding toward insolvency. It was right on the old highway through town, and was bypassed with the rest of it by the new highway in 1985. The Marathon station out by the highway gets most of its business now, and the few people that do shop at the QuickStop usually do so because of its local jerky or late-night habit of selling alcohol to minors. The gasoline tanks steadily leak into the surrounding soil, which the owner, Ian Lebedev, calls his “retirement policy”–having the state come in and declare the abandoned property a toxic cleanup site.

Richemont Dairies LLC
The major employer in town, famous for Richemont Ice Cream. Approximately 25% of all Richemont Ice Cream in the country, and nearly all of it in the local region, comes from Higbee. This has led the town to have an extremely liberal view toward tax breaks and expansion, and as a result Richemont has doubled in size over the past 15 years–though, thanks to automation, it has not added many jobs. Richemont has been interested in closing the plant for decades thanks to its inconvenient location, but has so far been enticed by increasingly desperate tactics by the city–so much so that it has not paid any local property tax since 1990.

Orville’s Bakery
A small but regionally known bakery, Orville’s is still using the equipment that patriarch James Orville bought in 1950 to establish the business. It is one of the few things that attracts tourists or foodies to Higbee, and a local staple for cookies, birthday cakes, and small-batch bread. James Orville retired in 1990, and his children, Rita and Jim Jr., have been waiting for him to pass away so they can dismember and sell the business–the equipment would bring a quarter-million dollars, and the payday is more enticing to them than running the business.

Grand Tecumseh Hotel
The faded shell of a once-grand Gilded Age hotel. Neglectful owners and ill-fated attempts to modernize have left it moribund, with few guests and nearly all of its income deriving from its liquor license. Nearly half the structure is shut down, and what remains has been quietly overrun with black mold that its owner is trying to keep under wraps.

Movies R Us
Three businesses frankensteined together in an attempt to stave off the 21st century, Movies R Us has a Radio Shack up front, a DVD and video game rental business up in the middle, and a tanning salon in back. Each of them used to be in separate buildings, but hard times have forced them together in a marriage of convenience. The Radio Shack is not technically allowed to use the name and branding anymore, but since the company is bankrupt, it does anyway; it sells prepaid phones and phone cards and the owner still tinkers with electronics on the side. The rental business succeeds because of the terrible availability of broadband in Higbee and its low overhead, while the tanning beds are the most profitable venture by far but are beginning to show their age.

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