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What do Chevys, Paula Deen and Walmart have in common?

From time-to-time I write about what customers want. I’ve written about the 3 Key Things Customers Want and I’ve written about having enthusiasm for your own product – are you aware that there are small and home-based business owners out there trying to peddle products and/or services about which they are not excited nor passionate?  How can you give a personal testimony about something you don’t like or use yourself?  But I digress.

[picapp src=”3/a/f/c/Salad_with_a_e0d9.jpg?adImageId=7117953&imageId=5067630″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]I’m a customer and today I’m writing about three new-to-me products that I find have – for me – quality, value and give me a reason to go back:

1.  Chevys Fresh Mex restaurant – a new salad, the “Grilled Wedge Salad.”  I couldn’t find a description on the website’s menu so I phoned my town’s location.  The price in my area is $8.99 and if you want chicken with it, it’s one dollar more.  A fellow named Bruce helped me and said this is a special that’s only been out a week or two.  We happened to stop in our Chevys this past Saturday and I was intrigued enough to try it…it was delicious!  I very seldom brag on the products of other businesses unless they happen to greatly impress me.  For whatever reason this salad did…so much so, I went back on Monday and had it again.  I didn’t have chicken with it; rather, I asked for a side of 4 ounces of grilled shrimp.  OMG – it was very good.  The idea seems to be to take two hearts of romaine and lay them on the grill then top them with various condiments and put the whole thing on a light pond of Ranch dressing.  That plus some chips, salsa and iced tea made for a great lunch.

For me this salad met my definition for quality – the salad ingredients were fresh and very tasty; value – what I received for the money I paid was reasonable; and as you can already see, I did return.

2.  Paula Deen 5 qt. Covered Saute – The story here is twofold: (1) I’m of an age that my kitchen cupboards are filled with an archeology lesson’s worth of old pots and pans; and (2) I’ve just re-discovered my love of cooking.  I’ve been cooking since age 8 when I began helping my mom in the kitchen and have gone through periods of both loving and loathing my kitchen.  There have been days when the very thought of having to think up one more menu was more than I could take and I phoned for pizza delivery.  However, something this past year has reawakened my culinary creativeness and I’ve been having rather a lot of fun trying new recipes.  But there is something sad about trying a new recipe using beat-up pitiful pots and pans.

I regularly used this old, dented quite large wok-type pan for just about everything.  But last week I took a good look at it and realized it was probably doing more harm than good to my cooking efforts so off to the store I went to find a replacement.  Because I was also in the market for a new slow cooker – mine went on the fritz and would only cook on high – I went to my local Walmart.  Found the slow cooker I wanted at a good price.  Then I began to peruse the cookware.  I haven’t purchased any new cookware in a great many years.  I may want to get a cast iron fry pan one of these days and Walmart had some already seasoned, but not this visit.  There were several brands of cookware and in prices ranging from the very economical to a range of $30 to $50 per piece.  And then I saw it: a large, covered pan in a really pretty blue color.  The brand was “Paula Deen,” one of the many famous cooks I’ve seen on cookbook covers at the bookstore.  I saw that Walmart offered a selection of single items as well as boxed sets of this brand.  My budget this week only allowed one item so I chose the 5 qt. covered saute in a pretty blue.  I’ve already used it three times since Saturday.  It meets my qualifications for quality and value and I will go back and get more Paula Deen-branded cookware.

I did do some research on the internet about this cookware and the only negative comment I found was someone’s displeasure that the cookware is made in Thailand.  And, yes, right on the cardboard sleeve for the piece I purchased it says: “Manufactured in Thailand for Meyer Corporation One Meyer Plaza, Vallejo, CA 94590.” [Meyer Corp. also manufactures the Rachael Ray brand cookware.] I’m all for things made in the USA, but I also believe we live in a global economy.  One of my next door neighbors was born and raised in Thailand.  She goes back every summer to visit her family and has told me wonderful stories about her country.  Her mother came out one year, she speaks only Thai, but she and I managed to connect over the fact that we’re both grandmothers.  So, I don’t have a problem with the fact that the Paula Deen cookware is manufactured in Thailand.

3.  Puritan brand solid twill shirt –  Coincidentally, my third product of mention that is new-to-me I also found at Walmart.  Funny, my dad used to say “We’re going to The Wahl Mart.”  For dad this was a trip right up there with visiting the tool section at Sears.  I have certain items I purchase at certain places and, like any other consumer, I comparison shop and I look for bargains.

On this particular day I was just wandering around in the store.  I’ve never previously visited the men’s clothing section of Walmart as I purchase my husband’s clothing at other retailers.  But this day I was drawn into the department because I caught a glimpse of a striking color shirt…a deep reddish burgundy.  I like to wear a man’s long-sleeve shirt as a light jacket or overshirt and thought this might be a great color for my own wardrobe if the quality was okay.  I’m not going to disparage Walmart and its brands here, but I don’t go into a discount store expecting high quality in clothing.  Having said that I was very surprised at the quality of this shirt.  The brand is Puritan, which I learned on Wikipedia, is one of the brands that Walmart carries.  The shirt is made of solid [cotton] twill – a heavy-duty fabric that holds up well to wear.  I liked the look of the shirt, it appeared to be well made and came in several colors.  I tried one on and the fit was good for my needs.  I bought two.  That evening I had my husband try on one and he liked it so I returned the next day and bought three more.  This item met my definitions of quality – in manufacture and materials; in value – the shirt was $9 – I almost ignored it because the price was so low; and I had a reason to return – to purchase more.  I’ve already washed these shirts and they came out just fine.

Their purchases notwithstanding, customers want for their money quality, value and a reason to return.  Give your customers those three things…as well as the added value of good customer service and your business will be ahead of the curve.