Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why does the Dutchman's Hidden Valley Survive?

Looking back at the last post after a long hiatus due to much client work to be done and the launching of the new referral club in N Texas - Gold Star Referral Clubs, I thought an answer to the question posed then might be in order.  A good ole' fashioned reminder.

As a quick refresher, The Dutchman's Hidden Valley outside Hamilton TX is a place I've been going for 20-some years.  The daughter of the man who ran it when I started going, runs it now.   The Hidden Valley is an antique, deli, smokehouse, country kitchen, candy shop, collectibles store.

The question posed last time was why did it survive, even thrive, after all the years in such a remote place?  It sort of defies modern logic. 

I have considered the question at some length and have been in the store again since my last writing with the question on my mind.  

Here are some observations about it:
  • They do what they are good at doing
  • They do what they like to do
  • Customers like what they do
  • What they do is unique in the geographic area
  • Also, geographically, they are a couple hours from several places that are big - meaning a good place to stop and take a break whether coming from the south or north
  • They have products you don't find exact matches for everywhere (or anywhere else in a few cases), but sauce is sauce and a ham sandwich is a ham sandwich to some people.
  • It reminds you of a different time
  • It's changed some over the years, but not in massive ways
  • It's family owned
  • Nearly all their business must be walk in or having walked in once, you go online to replenish your fudge supply.  Repeat customers must be a big percentage of the ongoing total revenue.
I am pretty sure you could niche it as a country store.  There aren't many of those left - real ones anyway.  There are Cracker Barrel's (the corporate country store) near the BIG highways around here.  Most similar places are gone though. Dutchman's is isolated by comparison.  It's really hard to find the old Robertson's Smokehouses any more.  Dutchman's differs from those due to the diversity of offering.  Is diversified niche an oxymoron?

Are there lessons for those of us in other industries & businesses about why they survive year after year?  Yes.  Some backroads lessons.

  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket
  • Be along the way to somewhere else
  • Don't change for the sake of change. Be consistent with who or what you are
  • Of course, do things you like to do.
  • Take care of your customers. Understand what makes them come back and never let go of that. I love the place.
Anything else you can think of?

Let's Grow!
Wes Stalcup

p.s. I also learned since the previous post, that the Dr. Pepper plant in Dublin, basically never stopped making DP with real cane sugar.  They tried it with corn syrup, thought it tasted funny and refused to switch.  Lately, retro-DP with sugar has been made at the big plant in Plano, TX.  I have tried them back to back.  The Dublin formula is just different and still BETTER. 


email marketing said...

"Don't change for the sake of change. Be consistent with who or what you are"
This is so true and I think a lot of businesses could benefit by taking this to heart.
People love consistency.
Interesting blog!