Volume 12, Issue 4 - May 2011


First Impressions Make a Big Difference, But Are Not the Only Thing That Matters
by Ally Curran

I’ve always heard not to judge a book by its cover, and often you have to do just that when you picture something one way and it turns out completely different.

While visiting South Carolina recently, I set out to see how the Low Country did business. After researching nearby window retailers, I went to a local company to inquire about purchasing windows for a beachfront property on Pawleys Island.

While driving up Highway 17 to Pawleys Island Lumber, I saw a billboard with the company’s logo and the words “500 feet ahead on the left.” The building is located on a small road off Highway 17 and occupies three adjoining buildings. Finding the entry was a little confusing. Upon entering the building, I was taken back by the animal heads mounted all around and the aisles of hardware tools. It took me a couple of minutes to realize that I wasn’t in a hardware store, but a showroom.

Shopping Around
An employee named Rachel led me back to a conference room where samples of windows were scattered throughout the room on the walls and some on the table in the center along with blueprints for a project. She then referred me to a gentleman named Duff.

Duff did not give me his title, (nor is it on his business card), but he seemed important. He wore camouflage windbreaker pants, a performance fishing shirt and hunting boots. His appearance did not give me much confidence in his ability to help me find the windows for the beach house. However, he quickly restored my confidence.

Secret Shopper Report Card
Pawleys Island Lumber
Location: Pawleys Island, S.C.
Facility Type: Showroom

Subject Grade
Store was Easy to Find A-
Parking Lot was Clean A
Greeted Upon Entering B+
Neatness of Displays B
Employee Appearance D
Employee Product Knowledge A
Store Experience Satisfaction B
Overall Grade B

Marking Code
A Excellent B Above Average
C Average D Below Average
F Unsatisfactory

He told me to first decide whether I wanted impact or non-impact windows. He explained that the impact window was actually the one inside the house as it is your last defense if something (say a hurricane) were to happen. He did not know if this was something I wanted on all my windows, but definitely suggested it be considered.

Upstairs, in a more typical showroom, there were numerous displays of the different types of windows. Duff told me that I also would need to choose a wood finish or a white factory finish. He warned me that aluminum corrosion would be a factor because the property was on the ocean.

He then provided me a list of several local contractors to call for a look at the house and the windows. Upon leaving, Duff gave me his business card and some brochures on both Marvin windows and Andersen windows.

My first look at the building and my first impression of Duff left me feeling uneasy. However, his extensive knowledge and good manners impressed me and changed my mind. At least I had a starting point for my project.

My recommendations to Pawleys Island Lumber would be to think about the current first impression of the store and require some uniform or standard for attire. Overall, the company is a great local resource for consumers interested in replacing their windows.

Ally Curran serves as marketing coordinator for DWM/Shelter magazine.


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