Author: Frank Dunne, Jr. | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai
On Derek: Black Micro-Leather Sport Coat by Palmettoes, White Shirt by Paul & Shark
In any business, the best asset you have in tough economic times is not necessarily money in the bank (although it helps tremendously); it’s a loyal customer base. Especially if your product might be considered a luxury, the kind of thing people tend to cut back on in a soft economy. If your customers are going to buy less of something, you want to make sure that they keep buying it from you.
Dennis Jaworski, owner of Palmettoes—Fine Apparel & Accessories for Fun Loving Men & Women, finds himself in that situation right now. Jaworski and co-owner, Chuck Hall, have always pinned the Sea Pines Center boutique’s success on a unique shopping experience that brings customers (or rather, guests) back time and again. The business model’s value has never been more apparent than it is now.
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“The crux of our business is still to make a shopping trip an enjoyable thing, not a chore,” said Jaworski. “We’re firm believers that, first and foremost, we want you to feel that you’re buying something unique when you buy it from us.” To that end, Palmettoes procures merchandise in small groupings, and never buys an item more than once. If you see something you like, you’d better get it now because it’s not likely to be there on your next visit. That sense of urgency assures that visitors rarely leave the store empty handed, and always feel that they have something very special and unique.
Also, procurements are made with people in mind, not demographic profiles, giving Palmettoes a deeper personal relationship with visitors. “When we go to market, we take certain customers in our heads with us and buy for them,” Jaworski added. “And we do personal shopping for a lot of our customers who don’t live here. We call it sending them a care package.” He noted that these care package customers don’t even tell them what they want. “We just know what works for them. Palmettoes is still a store that does not base its business on needs, but on wants.”
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Jaworski admits that the start to the spring season has been slower than he’d like to see, but it could be worse. “We see people less often, but when they do come in, they’re still spending money.” And Palmettoes is still celebrating with in-store happy hours every evening as well as other customer entertainment. “We’re out three and four nights a week entertaining customers. It’s become a very important part of our business day.”
The slow moving economy hasn’t stopped Palmettoes from looking forward and trying new things either. “We just launched a new men’s fragrance called (appropriately enough) Palmettoes,” said Jaworski. “We discovered a cologne while in St. Bart’s and really liked it. So we brought some back and had a fragrance company reverse engineer the formula to find out what’s in it. Then we created a new formula from that.”
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Would you like to know what’s in Palmettoes? You’ll have to visit the store to check it out. Interestingly enough, Jaworski noticed that a lot of women have been buying Palmettoes, not necessarily for their men, but for themselves. “It turns out that it has a unisex appeal,” he said. Nothing wrong with that. We think it’s cute when our girlfriends wear a pair of our boxers, don’t we?
Another aspect of Palmettoes that has not been negatively affected by the economy is the staff. All members of the Palmettoes crew; Jaworski, Hall, Maxine Newkirk, Maryrose Lucarelli, Liz Hull and Zack the dog, have been with the store since its inception and all remain today.
On Teri: Turquoise Silk Tank Dress by Britt Ryan, Crystal Quartz Necklace by Karen Caroll
Palmettoes is located in the Shops at Sea Pines Center, 71 Lighthouse Road, Suite 414. Drop in, or call (843) 363-6800. Ask for Zack.