If you were to ask husband and wife J.D. and Jenny Campbell ten years ago if they thought they might ever run a business, they more than likely would’ve told you, no. Fast forward to today when J.D. and Jenny own and operate Miller’s 5&10, and they’ll tell you they couldn’t be happier. Miller’s 5&10 is a traditional dime store located in the Historic Boonville Square. They are proudly veteran-owned and family-owned, and they are a true treasure in the Tri-state area.
We spoke with J.D. to learn more about this special shop. Check out their story of history, family, and love.
Can you share the story of how Miller’s 5&10 got its start?
“My grandfather Jim and his father Leonard opened the business in 1958. They had both worked at other retailers, and decided they wanted to start their own retail business. My grandfather ran the business until about five years ago when he passed away. At that point, the rest of the family got involved and so we’re still a family-owned and run business.”
Did you always want to be a part of your family’s business?
“No, actually. My wife and I had moved out of state, and so it took us about a year to figure out how to move back home so we could take the business over. That was not something we planned. It just kind of happened as my grandfather’s health deteriorated.
My wife and I are both from Warrick County. We both had been out of the area for quite some time, and we were eager to return closer to home and closer to family. Returning to the area gave us the opportunity to get involved in this small town, and keep one of the cornerstones of the community open and running. This also gave us the opportunity to be self-employed. The timing was right, and fortunately, it has worked out for everybody. We love being home, and we couldn’t imagine doing anything else at this point.”
What do you love about working with family?
“My kids are twelve and eight so we get them involved sometimes. My 12-year-old loves to run the cash register and ring people up. So we’ll get them involved in little things. My wife is the primary employee and the face of the store most of the time. My mom and my uncle are involved and they work a few days a month, too. No matter when you come in the store, there’s always someone from the family working.
Running Miller’s 5 & 10 as a family business helps keep the family close. It gives us something to talk about other than just kids and grandkids. Everyone in the family has their perspective on the store and how the store interacts with the community. Being able to tap into all of that knowledge is really helpful for us, since my wife and I were gone for so long between college and being in the military.”
What’s The business’ Connection to the local community?
“Boonville is a small town of about 6,000 people. The store has been a part of that community for around 60 years. We’ve got multi-generational customers where grandparents will bring their grandkids in and talk about what they would do when they were younger and what the store used to carry. To see families get excited about a shopping experience they can enjoy is great for us. We want to provide an experience that invokes that small town feel that the community has.
From a service perspective, my grandfather was a marine and I was a marine, so we like to let people know that we have that service tie to the community.”
What have been some of the top moments for the business?
“Because my grandfather and his family have been a part of the community for so long, everyone who comes in has a connection to our family somewhere along the way and it’s pretty amazing to hear the stories of experiences customers have had in the store or how someone in our family helped them out. Our store has been involved in the community for more than 50 years. Just hearing our customers’ stories of how they’ve interacted with our family over the years is pretty amazing.”
How do you choose the items you sell in your store?
“Really, we’re a variety store in the truest sense. We have a little bit of everything. One of the main draws is that you can come into our store and find products you won’t find anywhere else. We’ve heard stories about people going into Evansville and going to these box stores, and then they come in here and find something that was here at a local store two blocks away the whole time. It’s that variety of different items and hard-to-find items that you’re not going to find at your big box store. That’s what we try to focus on.
There are some items we carry that are more of commodities. But, one of our first questions when we find a new product that we think people might like is, who else is carrying this? We can’t always compete with those big box retailers on price, so then we’ll try to find a differentiator in the product line where a customer will know that they can’t get it at one of the box stores. That’s how we choose our product line.”
How do you see Miller’s 5 & 10 continuing to thrive and grow?
“Whether or not this business continues to be passed down in our family ultimately depends on our kids and their interests. I certainly hope the store will stay in the family. As far as the future of the business, we want to continue to grow and provide that throwback, comfortable shopping experience that doesn’t feel like a transaction. At the same time, we need to stay on the cutting edge as far as our product lines go and our marketing. We are the last five and ten cent store in the state of Indiana, and we want to continue to capitalize on that sort of experience. You don’t really get that anymore. As far as the future goes it’s find that right blend of technology and products to help make sure the business is successful but striking a balance with the shopping experience.”
Businesses like Miller’s 5&10 add a level of charm and hospitality to your community that you just can’t find at a big box retailer. The next time you need to do a little shopping, make sure they’re at the top of your list. Before you go, be sure to get Towny – the app that allows you to explore the Tri-state area, choose local, and get rewarded for doing it. Download Towny for free!
(Pictured in cover photo from left to right: Emmett Campbell, Ella Campbell, Jim Miller, Barbara Miller, Gale Campbell, J.D. Campbell, Jenny Campbell)