By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
The crowds that attended Smith Tractor Company’s three-store, John Deere-sponsored “Drive Green” event on April 13 were smaller than company officials had hoped for. The company’s sales manager, who said the less-than-anticipated turnout was most likely a matter of perception, still deemed the promotion a successful one.
“It was fair,” Dewayne Williams, general manager of STC’s Atmore store said of the collective crowd that showed up at company stores in Atmore, Jay and Frisco City. “We had planned for a whole lot more, but it’s the first time we’ve done something like this in a long time. So overall, I would mark it up as a success.”
Those who did attend were treated to Conecuh sausage, chips and drinks and were eligible for door prizes that were awarded every half hour of the two-days-plus event.
“We probably bought $3,000 to $4,000 worth of gifts and door prizes,” Williams said. The top door prize, a Big Green Egg smoker, was awarded to Justin House of Uriah.
Williams noted that the crowd in Frisco City was larger than at either of the other stores.
“We had, I think it was 176, who registered at all three stores,” said the GM. “We had the biggest crowd in Frisco City, where we did a live radio remote. Atmore and Jay are hard nuts to crack, though, as far as reaching the people that drive by you every day.”
That’s where perception comes into play, he said.
“When people see John Deere, they think of a three-quarter-million-dollar cotton picker,” he explained. “But this was for smaller stuff, from lawnmowers through 100 hp tractors. This was aimed at the pea-patchers, the weekend warriors and the part-time farmers.
“Most people don’t know we have the smaller machines; most don’t know that you don’t have to expect to pay more just because it’s a John Deere. John Deere is affordable. Our prices compare with the top brands, but people expect to pay more if it runs like a Deere.”
He added that the weather might have been too nice over the three-day event.
“If it had rained Friday night, we probably would have had a much bigger crowd on Saturday,” he mused. “In this case, the weather was probably just too good. Folks were out in their yards or out doing other things, down at the river fishing, things like that.
“We had a good time and good weather. It’s just two different crowds.”