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Hudson Crawlin’

hudsonsIf you don’t live in Mississippi, Alabama or Lousianna, then you are missing out. I’ll probably get in trouble with the Southern Immigration Board for telling you that, but I can’t help it.  I just have to let the cat out of the bag. About once every 6 or 8 weeks, my wife and I take a couple of hours to do what I call euphamistically, “Hudson Crawlin’.”

Hudson’s Treasure Hunt is a delightful store that frankly is sort of difficult to describe to anyone who has never been inside of one. Over sixty years ago, the concept of Hudson’s came about as the result of a fire. H. C. Hudson was the owner of a grocery store in Palmer’s Crossing, MS and after a fire severly damaged his story, he asked the insurance agent what would become of the remaining inventory. After some negotiation, the insurance agent sold the goods back to H. C. Hudson who in true entrepreneurial fashion, immediately held a “fire sale” for his “Smoky Groceries” at 50% off. The success of the sale convinced H. C. Hudson that he was on to something and he began to scour the country-side looking for similar opportunities and along the way The Hudson Salvage Company  was born.

Checking out their website in preparation for this story, I found the company’s creed displayed prominently and I think it bears reprinting here. It is a creed worthy for any business to including my own to aspire to. I also think that it is telling that they call it their creed and not their mission. A creed is a system of beliefs or principles whereas a mission is more of a goal or destination. Hopefully Hudson’s won’t mind if I quote their creed since frankly I believe it bears repeating. Change a few words and I think you’ll find that the same words can apply to your business or your life as well.

Hudson’s is a family of diverse individuals who believe in keeping our word, working hard, having fun and treating others as we want to be treated. We believe in helping each other grow and develop to our potential. We also believe that we are destined to become the ultimate extreme value retail company by the grace of God. It is our mission to always provide our customers desirable merchandise at prices less than any competitor while making the profit needed to fulfill our destiny.

Hudson stores are often located in large, older buildings previously occupied by other retail stores that have moved on to greener pastures. Curiously, no matter what part of town Hudson’s Treasre Hunt stores are located, the parking lots are always full. It’s a different kind of retailing they do at Hudson’s. What would be a negative at other stores becomes a positive at Hudson’s. The air conditioning is usually at the upper range of comfortable, the signage on the walls is simple and cartoony. The fixtures and shelving are all second-hand purchases at going out of business sales, product is often placed haphazardly on the shelves because much of it doesn’t have a box or packaging or if it does it may be dented, water damaged, or torn. The shopping carts are mis-matched and sometimes merchandise is stacked in the middle of the aisles.

Whole sections of the store may be roped off with yellow tape as new merchandise is cataloged, priced and organized. On one visit the goods might be from a grocery store and the next might be from an arts and crafts store. One time we went and there were 5 separate aisles with nothing but shoes. Another time almost everything in the store was yard tools, garden hoses, shovels, and picks. While attempts are made to clean most of the merchandise, the fact is occasionally you’ll get your hands or clothes dirty by handling some of the goods because after all they may have been in a fire, or sitting in a warehouse for a long time.

Products may be moved from store to store until the right customers are found, prices may be lowered to find the right buyers. Which is a philosopy which reminds me of sign that used to hang on the back of the bathroom door at Fred’s Discount Store where I spent most of my time working after school. It said that Fred’s would be successful as long as we had the “Right Products in the Right Place at the Right Time at the Right Price with the Right Customer Service.” Hudson’s is so committed to selling everything they can that if it can’t be sold through Hudson’s Treasure Hunt, they’ll slash the price again and move it to their auxillary store, Dirt Cheap.

As I stood beside our cart while my wife looked through the hanging clothes, I began to look around me and easily identified all of the married guys in the store because they were also standing next to their carts while their wives looked at clothes, quietly looking forward to getting to the aisles with tools or electronics. Which brings up a point that I need to make which is why I call our trips to these stores, “Hudson Crawlin’.”  My wife and I do not go to Hudson’s looking for anything, but we look at everything to find stuff we might want. I should also warn you that you have to have a pretty good idea of what things cost in order to make good purchase decisions. I’m not saying that deals can’t be found, but it’s like a dance; you have to pick and choose carefully to make sure you get the best deal.

It is in fact a treasure hunt just as the name implies. And when you find that awesomely great deal, it feels just like you’ve hit the jackpot. The feeling of getting a good item at a great price is desired by everyone and it is achievable at Hudson’s Treasure Hunt. Give it a try the next time you get the chance. Oh, and if you are lucky, you’ll get a check-out clerk like we did that will offer you hand-sanitizer. It was a really nice touch!

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