Once businesses go offline, they tend to stay that way. However, Gary Prauss bucked that concept and appears to be the exception.
After shutting down for a few years, Prauss came back bigger and stronger than ever and in October of last year, opened up Heart Country Gas Station and Convenience Store in South Heart.
Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, customers can put their shopping trips to Dickinson or Belfield on hold, because Heart Country has most of what they need.
Prauss said the station has a wide variety of products including tools such as screwdrivers, drills, sockets, wrenches, trailer parts and so on. It also has an entire section devoted to toys, so parents can come in with their kids and pick out that new memory forming item. Prauss’ trailer business, Ideal Trailers now runs from the gas station which serves as a hub of activity in South Heart.
Heart Country offers a wide selection of food and drink items, ranging from typical convenience store offerings to kitchen necessities, such as flour and sugar. Prauss mentioned his massive ice cream selection.
While most businesses and owners looked to cut costs amidst the growing pandemic, Prauss not only grew his business but opened a new one in a town of 443 people. According to Prauss, locals keep their local businesses alive and he said he urges those in South Heart to shop locally. Sales taxes generated from the store return to the community, especially the school, and can help development in a rural municipality.
Unlike many gas stations, Prauss said Heart Country offers a unique selection of home decor items including stained wood signs reading “I heart pie” and a door knock in the shape of a black bear’s head — novelties that South Heart residents continue to buy.
Buying locally, Prauss said, not only helps the community through taxes but allows owners like Prauss to donate locally.
Putting the “heart” in South Heart is something Prauss is proud of.
On several occasions, Prauss said, he has given some of his profits and other items to a variety of organizations to help meet the needs of the local community.
“I donate around town...Fire Department, golf course, cancer fundraisers. They had a fundraiser down at the bar and I gave a drone to that for a gal that had got in a car wreck. I got $275 for it. That’s something Amazon doesn’t do,” Prauss said highlighting the ‘shop local’ benefits.
Prauss said if people in town would like this kind of service to continue, they should contribute to the cause by buying items from Heart Country Gas Station and Convenience Store, located at 100 4th St NW, South Heart, ND 58655.