St. Joseph County Fair, Exhibit a Success

St. Joseph County Grange Fair

A birds-eye view of the St. Joseph County Grange Fair.

For the second consecutive year, Safety Glasses USA represented itself with an exhibit in a merchant barn at this year’s Grange Fair in Centreville, the heart of Saint Joseph County, Michigan. In the 160th year of the event, the fair again featured major grandstand events, 4-H exhibits, rides, games and a variety of other activities on the 150 acre fairgrounds.

For Safety Glasses USA, this year saw some improvements over last year’s showing.  Of particular note is the move to the more spacious looking building 42, and the addition of a third booth space.  Said company VP Kendra Eldridge, “we really enjoyed our new booth location and expanded size this year.  It gave us an even greater opportunity to showcase some of our more popular styles as well as other products we carry, such as the hi-viz apparel.”  Indeed.  The company is happy to have recently added to its offering a more cost-conscious line of high-visibility and reflective safety vests and shirts.  A big hit yet again was the large bin of $1 safety glasses, consisting mostly of overstock and discontinued styles.  Safety Glasses USA displayed over 150 current styles of safety glasses and sunglasses, including some highlighted from their growing imprinting program.

With several brands allowing for custom imprinting on various products, Safety Glasses USA wanted to lend a more local feel to the international scope.  They had a selection of safety glasses with local school logos imprinted on the lenses in their respective colors.  Logos included were for Three Rivers, Centreville, Sturgis, and Constantine schools, but any school or business can have their logo appear on glasses or hard hats.

Continuing the custom concept, Safety Glasses USA had some custom-built Oakley sunglasses on display, also boasting local school colors.  Sporty styles Half Jacket, Flak Jacket, Straight Jacket and Jawbone were among those on display.  The company went a step further and held a drawing, whereby the winner would receive custom designed Oakley sunglasses, up to a $200 value.  Corey Johnson of Three Rivers was the lucky grand prize winner.  Runner-up Emily Feister won an Oakley backpack, and Phyllis Cupp won an Oakley T-shirt for third prize.

Safety Glasses USA made its first appearance at this fair in 2001, only a year into its now ten-year-old business.  But many customers haven’t forgotten.  Says Eldridge, “it was a pleasure to see people who remembered our booth from years prior, as well as new visitors.”  When asked about manning the large 30-foot booth space for the entire week of the fair, she added, “I know many of our staff appreciated the opportunity to get out of the office or the warehouse and do something different for a week, and directly interact with local customers.”

The company’s growth in necessary booth space is symbolic of its growth over the years.  As Safety Glasses USA celebrates its 10th year in business this month, its owners can reflect on how far the business has come, from their garage, barn, and its longtime home on Millard Street, to its current 15,000 square foot facility at 1501 KDF Drive in Three Rivers’ Enterprise Park.  The park faces northbound U.S. 131, just South of Broadway.  This building also houses the current retail showroom, which is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm.

Customers too far to visit locally are reminded to browse the virtual store at www.SafetyGlassesUSA.com.  The website includes the full selection of products, where nearly everything is stocked at the warehouse and usually ships out the same day of ordering.

You Spoke. We Listened.

Customer service and customer satisfaction is and has always been a top priority for Safety Glasses USA. We understand that it is the satisfied customer who allows a retailer to maintain its status, if not actually grow in today’s tough economy. For this reason long ago, SafetyGlassesUSA.com employed the services of BizRate, a consumer feedback network that collects millions of customer reviews of stores and products in a variety of industries.

BizRate’s role for us was to simply gather data based on our customers’ experiences from actual sales on SafetyGlassesUSA.com. The format was a short and optional survey that customers would receive after completing the sale. They could select varying performance levels from 1 to 10 on a few key customer satisfaction categories: Purchase Experience; Likely to buy from again; Likely to recommend; Selection of Products; and Competitive Price, among others. The score from one survey was tallied and tracked and blended with that of thousands of others to give us our aggregate rating. Over the years, SafetyGlassesUSA.com has been proud to maintain a 99.2% satisfaction rating.

In this survey, customers also had the option of writing their own comments, and many took the opportunity to do just that. A small sampling of customers’ actual compliments can be seen randomly cycling through the lower right area of the SafetyGlassesUSA.com homepage. Other comments came in the form of suggestions for website changes or product ideas. Sometimes we agreed, and sometimes not, but we always paid attention.

Overall, the surveys were a valuable part of each sale. They helped us to know, from the customers’ viewpoint, where we were doing a good job in our business practices, and to help identify areas that may have required improvement. And our high standing among BizRate’s elite users earned us the BizRate Circle of Excellence award for three straight years, something we were again very proud of. But somewhere along the way, BizRate, a part of Shopzilla, lost sight of the focus of these surveys for their merchant clients. The once valuable data gathering business barometer became an avenue for Shopzilla to make some extra money from our active customers.

Although the SafetyGlassesUSA.com logo appeared atop the survey window, it was often a BizRate/Shopzilla offer of a “$100 Reward” that piqued an online shopper’s interest. But upon further clicking and reading, this “reward” turned into an offer for magazine subscriptions worth up to $100. It may seem benign to read about it now, but many of our customers felt differently as they experienced it. In a time when the value of good customers is at a premium, and many people are still just becoming comfortable with online purchases, we certainly don’t want to give a bad first impression to a new customer, or turn off an existing one.

Here are just one customer’s comments on the issue:

“I like your company. I order from you often. The bogus ‘Receive $100’ survey at the end of the ordering process that turns out to be magazines is stupid and unprofessional. Are you a safety equipment company or some kind of scam operation? Lose the bogus survey. Fire the genius VP that came up with the idea.”

It should be understood that while these offers may be perceived as a joint marketing effort with BizRate, we can assure you that SafetyGlassesUSA.com played no part in the conception, creation, or willful promoting of these offers.  After multiple requests by us to remove their offers from the surveys, it became clear that the only way to truly eliminate any irrelevant BizRate offers was to discontinue the surveys altogether. Unfortunately, this may mean that SafetyGlassesUSA.com loses its eligibility for future Circle of Excellence awards. But as mentioned earlier, we listen to our customers, and the message of no BizRate offers has been heard loud and clear.

SafetyGlassesUSA.com may seek out the services of a more customer-friendly survey system from which to obtain feedback. But either way, we will continue to make improvements in all areas as needed. We thank our customers who have stuck with us despite these questionable BizRate offers, and pledge to bring you the best service possible going forward.

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Retail: Relocated and Retooled

Safety Glasses USA, Inc. HQSince August, 2008, Safety Glasses USA operated its retail store from a brick and mortar location in downtown Three Rivers, a separation from its first home in the company’s longtime warehouse. Over time it turned into a very nice little shop and resource for local citizens who needed our products. But now that the company’s warehouse is in a much larger facility, it should be able to adequately accommodate a showroom with a couple improvements.

The store displayed approximately 800 different styles of certified safety glasses on its walls, and several more in display cases.  This was a significantly reduced selection compared to what is available on SafetyGlassesUSA.com.  Yet for some it may still have been a little overwhelming to choose from so many styles.  The numbers may support this theory.  Sales history shows that customers generally selected from the same 80 styles or so.  This will allow us to display the core models that customers like plus many of the newer ones that have not yet gotten their trials in.  We anticipate displaying approximately half of those that were visible at the old store, but with a bonus.  Because customers will be in the company headquarters, they will have the ability to see any in-stock style upon request, even those that were not available at the store previously.  Our vast array of goggles for safety, sports and motorcycle riding will again be displayed; something that was missing at the downtown store.  The large selection of premium sunglasses will remain the same.

The bringing back of the showroom will also give us a better grip on stock levels, as there will again be only one inventory to track.  It will also allow for multiple employees to participate in a retail capacity so that customers may be assisted at any given time, while giving employees more hands-on experience with the products.

There is not yet a concrete date for the re-opening.  When completed, customers will go to 1501 KDF Drive, in the industrial park south of The Home Depot at US-131 and Broadway.  For now, customers are encouraged to place orders online, though they may select “In-store Pickup” for their delivery option, and pick up their order at the location of our current headquarters and relocated showroom, 1501 KDF Drive, Three Rivers.

SGUSA HQ, 1501 KDF Drive, Three Rivers

SGUSA HQ, 1501 KDF Drive, Three Rivers