The Story of Nixa Hardware & Seed Company

With a family tree that reads like a Christian County who’s who list, Nixa Hardware & Seed Company has been securely rooted in southwest Missouri for more than a century.

by Dori Grinder

May 2024

Nixa Hardware & Seed Company owners
Photo by Katy St. ClairJeremy Pryer, general manager and Larry McCroskey, owner have both had a variety of duties at Nixa Hardware & Seed Company over the years. Purchase Photo

Nixa Hardware & Seed Company is celebrating 125 years and is the oldest business in Nixa. With a core business of seed, cultivating customer loyalty and establishing successful roots, it’s a story that was planted in 417-land more than a century ago.

Founded in 1899 by F.M. Wasson, Nixa Hardware & Seed Company was originally located in a small wooden building just west of Main Street in Nixa. The early store carried tools, windmills, horse-drawn wagons and Model T Fords. In 1911, a larger store was built near the corner of Main Street and Highway 14 and quickly became a central hub of activity in Nixa. The store was a community gathering place and provided other important services like the post office. Since mail wasn’t delivered directly to people’s homes, the post office generated additional foot traffic to the store.

Current owner Larry McCroskey, now semi-retired, is the keeper of company stories. He shares the simple beginnings of the store owned by his great-great uncle F.M. Wasson and how ownership changed hands over the years. It didn’t exactly follow today’s standard succession plans. Needing help in the store in 1906, F.M. Wasson called in two nephews, Herbert Hawkins and Efton Hawkins, to see who would take on the task. “They flipped a silver dollar to see who would get the assignment,” says McCroskey. “Efton lost the coin flip and came to work in the store.”

The next generation to step in was L.D. “Mack” McCroskey, after running up a considerable fertilizer bill during a 3-year drought in the 1930s. Mack was offered a position at the store to work off his debt. Soon after, he sold his hogs to scrape together enough money to marry Efton Hawkins’ daughter, Averiel, and cement his family’s place in company history. In 1945, Mack was selected as the first mayor when the community established Nixa as a fourth class city.

Old photo of Nixa Hardware second location

The second store location for Nixa Hardware was built in 1911.

Vintage photo from Nixa Hardware

The original Nixa Hardware store was built in 1898. After a new location was built in 1911, the original building was used for seed and fertilizer storage. The original building was torn down in 1973 and was located near the current site of Diversified Plastics in Nixa.

Photos courtesy Nixa Hardware & Seed Co.

In the 1960s, Mack and Averiel’s son and current Nixa Hardware & Seed Company owner Larry McCroskey got an early start working in the store. As an industrious third-grader, he swept the floors to earn enough money for an ice cream cone.

Then at 12 years old, he helped harvest the seed. In 1974, Larry and his wife, Jeanne, purchased the store from Mack—along with Larry’s sister Macanna and her husband Gary Murray. The four ran it together successfully for 31 years, until the Murrays sold their portion to Larry and Jeanne in 2005.

Nixa Hardware & Seed Company is the oldest seed processor in Missouri. The company owns its own farms to cultivate and harvest seeds, and it carries more than 120 types of seed. They supply seed not only to 417-land, but several states beyond as well. They also have developed their own fertilizers, feed and 30 other specialty products like custom seed mixes and blends that aren’t found elsewhere. “We understand the unique soil and climate of Southwest Missouri,” says Seed Specialist Josh Jenkins. “We offer proven varieties for this area to ensure our customers have the best chance of successful growth.”

As Nixa Hardware & Seed Company continued to grow and shift over the years, so did the need for a larger building. In 1988 the business moved to its current location near the corner of Highway 14 and Highway 160 in Nixa, and it has slowly added square footage and warehousing space over the years, now occupying 120,000 square feet of facilities.

Customer loyalty plays a factor in the legacy of Nixa Hardware as well. The store offers direct-to-consumer prices and the ability to purchase in large quantities, and knowledgeable staff keeps customers coming back. “Customers tell you what they want, and being an individual, family-owned store, we have the ability to diversify and meet those needs,” says General Manager Jeremy Pryer. “Whether a customer needs a part for their lawn mower, help with a plumbing repair, what kind of seed to plant, feed to use or to help figure out the stove pipe they need, we are dedicated to helping customers find what they need at an affordable price.”

Nixa Hardware & Seed is currently in its fifth generation of family ownership. Larry and Jeanne’s daughters Christi, Cami and Casi and their spouses Allen, Josh and Jeremy all have active roles in the company, including department management, IT, accounting and advertising.

Family ties and a deep understanding of their homeland and the people in it are the glue that keep Nixa Hardware & Seed growing strong after more than 100 years in business.

Nixa Hardware & Seed Co. by the Numbers

Headquarters: Nixa, Missouri
Type of Company: Privately Owned Corporation
Current Numbers of Employees in Southwest Missouri: 70

Year Nixa Hardware Was Founded

Original Location
1200 square feet

Current Location
120,000 square feet

Cost of 1 Pound of Kentucky 31 Fescue Seed
12c in 1965
$1.74 in 2024

Cost of 1 Roll of Barbed Wire
$1.50 in 1899
$3.50 in 1944
$119.42 in 2024