Owner of Ruffsdale market shares business thoughts with President Trump at tax reform roundtable

Tribune-Review |

--Kristen Ranker raised two children as a single mom, worked three jobs at one time to make ends meet, rode her Harley from California to Washington, D.C., to raise funds for veterans and built a successful small business at Schaeffer's Corner Market in Ruffsdale.

Monday, President Trump got to tap the wisdom of her experience at a national small business roundtable in suburban Minneapolis.

Ranker, 50, of Connellsville was among 14 small-business owners from across the country -- and the only woman -- selected to meet with the president to discuss the impact of the 2017 tax code reforms.

"When you say small business, I'm super small. I have four or five employees, including me. I told the president, I didn't get to buy a bunch of equipment or hire a bunch of people. But there are people who did, and I get to sell them their milk and bread," Ranker said. "I think it's been a good thing. It's helping me sustain a business in a rural area where there's been a market in that location for over 100 years."

Back in Ruffsdale, her mother, June Campbell of Connellsville, spent the day running the Corner Market.

Campbell said she was sitting in the office at the store Friday afternoon when the call came in from the White House.

"When she answered the phone and the woman calling said who she was, Kris said, 'Yeah, right.' Then the lady said, 'Don't hang up. I am who I said I am,'" Campbell recalled. "You could have knocked me over with a feather. I certainly am excited for her."

Campbell said her daughter, who bought the business in late 2010 and opened in 2011, is a model of resiliency who always wants to give something back to the community.

In addition to her cross-country motorcycle fundraiser, she's done mission work in Belize and India. Three years ago, she bounced back from the devastating loss of her Connellsville home in a flood.

Ranker flew out to Minneapolis on Sunday night and was scheduled to return to Pittsburgh late Monday.

She was among 800 small-business owners across the country who filled out a survey that led the White House to select participants for the roundtable.

An active member of the National Federation of Independent Business Owners, Ranker has testified before the state legislature on small-business issues several times.

Ranker and other small-business owners are concerned a tax break they received in the federal reform package might someday disappear. While changes to the corporate tax rate adopted in 2017 were permanent, the 20% deduction offered to pass-through businesses -- small businesses, sole proprietorships, LLCs and S corporations -- were scheduled to disappear in eight years.

A spokeswoman for the National Federation of Independent Business Owners said her members are asking that the deduction that helped many boost their businesses be made permanent.

Ranker said the president was running late Monday and rushing from the stage when she realized she hadn't had an opportunity to shake his hand.

"So, I stepped out in front of this guy, reached out, shook his hand and said, 'Thank you.' I don't agree with everything he does, but most of it has been good," she said.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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