A Visit to Perry, Missouri

by Abbey Gerveler

Never been to Perry, Missouri? For many of you Ralls Countians, this isn’t true, for many of you have lived in or near Perry all your life. For me, someone who has only known the Ralls County area for a short time now, this was the case until last Friday.

Like many towns I’ve visited in the area, Perry is indeed small, with a rural population of less than 700. But it is this very attribute that makes the town stand out. Every small town is unique in its history and the people that make it; Perry is no exception.

Last Friday I was given a tour of Perry’s local businesses and was impressed with what I saw. Rarely have I seen so many retail, commercial, and industrial services supporting such a small area. Additionally, Perry’s downtown area was full of a variety of antique, resale, and specialty shops, many of which were housed in buildings dating back to the 1800s.

“Our main draw is antiques, so we’re pretty strong on that front,” said Chad Williams, Perry Mayor. Whether it’s antique shops that have operated for decades--such as 38-year-old business Arlington Antiques and Lick Creek Antiques which was established in 1971--or newly owned businesses, Perry’s shops have something for everyone. But it’s the “small town feel” that many, including Mayor Williams, stated as being Perry’s main attraction.

As a visitor, I could feel what many people I spoke to affirmed: Perry is a peaceful, close-knit community. “People really pull together here in Perry,” said Ammie Gaston, Perry Area Chamber of Commerce President and co-owner of the popular Hootenanny Cafe. Not these words but her actions spoke the loudest during my visit. Gaston, taking part in my tour of the town, demonstrated what a member of the Perry community must be like. Everyone seemed to know everyone, or at least know of everyone in the town, and Gaston knew nearly everyone I met. What’s more is that Gaston had shown that she was a customer of many businesses in town, and they, customers of her business in return.

As I came to see, many value reciprocation in Perry. As a visitor, I did not know how well I was involved in this system until I received perfect generosity from Perry’s people. Many were welcoming and giving in support of my attempt to write an article. From the Hootenanny Cafe, I received a whole pie! In my short time there, I felt like one of Perry’s own.

When considering all this, it is no wonder that Perry is a thriving small town, where Hickman’s IGA Grocery store is nearing its 60th year in business, a small-town barber is nearing his 52nd, and new shops anticipate many years to come. Perry is a fine town for all its hospitality and preservation of services needed by a community. For these reasons, I wouldn’t mind paying another visit to Perry, Missouri.