Overalls and Hundred dollar bills
My father, Frank Harrell, was a furniture dealer in Tifton, GA for over twenty-five years. He was well known over the whole South Georgia area and people came from everywhere to buy furniture from "Frank." Daddy was one of the most honest people I have ever known and the reason people came to him was that they trusted Frank Harrell to be straight forward and honest in his dealings with them. He, according to another furniture dealer in Tifton, sold more furniture by himself that all the other stores sold together. Frank Harrell was a "selling machine" who would do anything which was honest and within reason to make a sale. One day at our two story store on Love Avenue, I heard a banging upstairs that sounded as if it were going to come through the floor above. Lee Ferguson, who worked with us, and I wondered just what was going on up there. We knew that daddy had a man and his wife on the second floor looking at dinette sets and bedroom suits. The noise was so severe that I sent Lee up the stairs to check on what in the world was going on. He came back downstairs laughing and shaking his head and told me that daddy was up in the middle of a dinette table jumping up and down on it to demonstrate how study it was. The people bought the set.
I remember that farmers were especially attracted to my father because of his basic honesty. There was a hog farmer who lived South of Tifton on Hwy.319 which went to Moultrie. He was well known for his hog farming. He came into our store one day and bought the largest refrigerator we had. It was when refrigerators first started having two doors with the freezer on the left and the cooler on the right. I remember that it was a burnished silver color. Well, this man had bought all of his furniture from my father for many years. That is the way the people in South Georgia were. The found someone they trusted and they stuck with them. I remember that when he paid for the refrigerator which was a very expensive on for those days, he reached in the chest pocket of his overalls and pulled out a roll of One Hundred Dollar bills. I had never seen such a roll in my life! He pulled those bills off one at a time until he had placed eight hundred dollars in my father's hand. One would never have suspected that he would have had that kind of money one him. Hog farming was good.
Well, one day this man came into our store and he was obviously irritated. Of course we asked him why he was so upset and he told us that he had gone to an automobile dealer in Tifton to look at a pick-up truck. He had worn his truck out on the hog farm and needed a new one. He had walked onto the automobile lot and was looking at trucks. Of course he had on his working hat, his overalls and his brogan shoes. I also remember that he walked around with his hands tucked behind the bib on his overalls. The same bib that held all the hundred dollar bills. Anyway, he stood around and stood around and no one came to see what he wanted. He went inside the showroom to look at a truck in there and no one paid him much attention. So, he went back outside and finally someone came to him, spoke to him and said, "what are you looking for" implying that he did not think the man could buy a new truck and that the salesman was wasting his time fooling with this farmer. Our long-time friend told the man that he was needing a new truck and had always bought their brand but since he had been treated so disrespectfully he would not buy from them if they were the only dealership in Tifton. He had always driven Chevrolet trucks but he told the salesman that he had been thinking of trying a Ford and that was what he was going to do. The salesman saw his error and tried to convince the man to stick with their product but it was to no avail. The damage had been done.
When our friend and customer came into the store he told us the story and asked who would be a good person to buy a truck from. I told him that the best car salesman in the city was Frank Hogan out at the Ford place so he said that he was headed out there to by a truck. As soon as he left the store, I called Frank Hogan and told him that Mr. So and So was coming to see him. I related the story that the man had told us about his treatment at the Chevrolet place and that he was going to switch to a Ford truck. I said, "Now Frank, he looks like he doesn't have a dime but rolled up in the bib of those overalls is a roll of One Hundred Dollar bills and he will pay you cash on the barrel head for that truck." "Just make him feel welcome and treat him with respect and you will sell a truck." Well, in about an hour, Frank called us up and said, "Bill, you were right." "I never saw so many hundred dollar bills in my life." "He reached into that bib pocket and got that roll of money and paid cash for the truck." Frank was elated. In about fifteen minutes, the hog farmer came back to our store to show us his brand new Ford truck. He was proud of it and he thanked us for introducing him to Frank Hogan. He trusted Frank and bought other vehicles from him in the future.
This little experience taught me never to "judge a book by its cover" and that we should never form an opinion of a person until we get to know them. Our hog farmer friend was very prosperous even though he might not have looked so. He was right at home in his Overalls filled with Hundred Dollar Bills.
William F. Harrell