Nothing Runs Like A Deere

Jared Spool

November 3rd, 2005

It’s ironic that, while here attending the DUX 2005 conference on designing user experiences, I bump into an organization that has an amazing experience.

Deere & Co, which according to Yahoo, has a market cap of $15 billion, makes most of its money by selling tractors and harvesters. So, it’s ironic that they have a retail store right here on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, in the same block as my hotel.

John Deere Store

What’s most amazing is that the store doesn’t sell a single tractor or harvester. (The clerks laughed when I asked if I could buy one.) Instead, they’ve created a huge market for clothing, toys, and other paraphanalia, such as light switch covers.

John Deere Light Switch Cover

Could your business come out with a line of toys and make money selling them?

John Deere Store -- Toys

4 Responses to “Nothing Runs Like A Deere”

  1. hilary coolidge Says:

    Deere’s picking up on Harley Davidson’s softgoods model…

  2. David Jaeger Says:

    A good friend of mine was given a toy Deere tractor back in 1973 when he was 8; last year he bought his first full size Deere and I never saw someone so proud of a single purchase. He still has the toy proudly displayed in his home.

    I wonder if the folks at Deere knew that 8 year old would one day make that purchase 30+ years later? I think they did.

  3. DeWayne Purdy Says:

    The desire to purchase John Deere gifts and toys originates, I believe, in the excellent treatment of their customers. Nowhere is that brand loyalty more apparent than here in Waterloo, Iowa, where they build John Deere tractors. Every JD implement dealer has the toy/gift section.

    John Deere brings customers and dealers from around the country by the bus and planeload to visit the factory, in some cases to see their new tractor being built… not A new tractor, THEIR new tractor, which they can start up and drive off the assembly line.

    And as David noted, that indoctrination starts early. My children have John Deere books, toys and even a pedal tractor, because their grandfather and uncle use JD equipment. A friend’s son went as a farmer on a John Deere tractor for halloween, with a box hanging from straps painted like a tractor, again, to be like grandpa. I did the same thing a couple of decades ago, attaching the box to the front of my wheelchair, painted with official John Deere green paint purchased at the implement dealer.

    They make an excellent tractor, but I think it’s the way they’ve cultivated the customer relationship that allows them to make a pretty penny off of toys and gifts. They’re not really picking up on Harley-Davidson’s model as much as just doing the same thing all along. While JD may have just made it to Fisherman’s Wharf, they’ve been selling toys and gifts for decades.

  4. Leigh Page Says:

    After googling “John Deere Store San Francisco” I was surprised to see this link. My name is Leigh and I am the manager of the John Deere retail store you speak of in San Francisco. I am delighted to see a positive review and welcome you back any time.