Rev. Paul in his Way Up North blog likes to feature Dutch Harbor stories.
Thought I might contribute a related Dutch Harbor story of my own. Around 1990, I was stuck in a Mitsubishi store in Puyallup, WA that was owned by a multi franchise organization. I was able to sell any of the brands the organization carried.
One day a customer, “Angel”, came in. About 5’ tall, and as round. Redefined androgynous. Who cares, she was a customer. She was from Dutch Harbor, had $10,000 cash to spend, wanted only a brand new vehicle, and insisted on four wheel drive. No new small truck was in her price range. Still, a cash customer. Solution?
An all wheel drive Tempo. In fact, for her $10,000 we could add superior rust proofing with a warranty! Please understand, this wasn’t a rip-off. At the time, Zibart rust proofing was a huge improvement on anything the factories offered.
Angel was happy with her purchase, and still had enough money left to barge the Tempo to Dutch Harbor. In 2002, happened to be talking to a commercial fisherman from Dutch Harbor. He knew Angel, and remembered she still was driving the Tempo. Given the total of roads there, bet it still hadn’t clocked 100,000 miles.
I loved the Tempo. It was the perfect no brainer car. There is a class of drivers who don’t like cars, don’t understand them, and only have one out of necessity. All they want is that it starts, drives away when you shift, and is CHEAP. The Tempo was made for them.
I had a subset of Tempo customers, Chinese. Ford had a marketing gimmick printed on the window sticker, a “Value Added Discount”. This was additions like A/C that added up to $660, and was discounted $640. Typical Chinese customer went like this.
“I’m very poor man. Need large discount”!
“Look, we have already given you a BIG discount”.
Chinese customers were fun. Hard negotiators, but not time wasters or liars. If they said they had $2,000 down, they weren’t lying. They didn’t come in to “shop”, they came in to buy. The Chinatown Seattle First bank would almost always finance them. The whole secret was to get them laughing.
"I like you. I send all my friends to see you".
"Please don't. I can't make any money of you Chinese, and I have a family to feed".
"Hah, I send EVERYBODY in Chinatown to see you".
There was little gross profit in a Tempo, but was a good sale towards the monthly volume bonuses, so I was happy to sell them.
Ford replaced the Tempo with the Contour. A superior car in all respects except price, and the no brainer customers didn’t like them.