1st Impressions Make a Difference

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Last week, On Hand Development hosted a first impression tour around Miller. The Economic Development professionals that toured our community were from Wessington Springs, Kimball, De Smet, and Clear Lake. I haven’t gotten back their evaluations yet, but I will share that information as soon as I get it.  

A lot of people have asked me, “What is a 1st Impression Tour?” The tour was organized by Grow South Dakota thru a grant. Grow South Dakota provides all of the transportation, food, and costs associated with the tour. Each Economic Development professional has the opportunity to travel to the other towns and show their community off. Each person has criteria when reviewing the other communities. You then bring back what you learned from your tour to the leaders in your community to improve and grow.  A day is spent in each community observing all sides, including town entrances, signage, infrastructure, main street, housing, medical facilities, professional services, retail, beautification features, parks and recreation, public buildings, transportation, industrial parks, schools, tourism areas, community pride, conditions of buildings and lawns and quality of life observations. I really enjoyed touring the other communities, but my favorite part of this process was showing off my community.   

This process got me thinking about my 1st impression of Miller when I moved to this area back in 2009. I remember driving from Miller to St. Lawrence and LOVING the bike trail from St. Lawrence to Miller. I remember how I fell in love with Main Street, the awnings, and the charming feel. I remember the first time I saw the Drive In and thought how cool it was to live in a community that still had a drive in. I remember going to the Miller Golf Course for the first time and enjoying the family feel in the clubhouse.

The thing that stood out the most to me wasn’t even a thing. My first impression of the people in this area was unforgettable.  Everyone treated me like I had lived here forever and would do anything to help me out. I was working as a waitress at Willie’s where my future father in law was a regular guest. He asked me if I was single and I thought, “Where is he going with this?” He then told me he had a son about my age and boy did he have a deal for me. I also had a tip jar that read, “Get Me Out of My Brother’s Basement Fund.” And a woman read it and said, “I have a home for rent in Miller that you could rent to get you out of that basement.”  In a matter of a month, I had a date (with my future husband) and a NICE place to live (that wasn’t with my brother). And from then on, I knew that I would love it here.

My first impression of our area got me hooked instantly. I am so proud of our community and the first impression it gives to visitors. The look and feel of the community experienced by a visitor will most likely influence how long they stay, if they will return, and whether or not they will speak about the community positively or negatively. My 1st impression influenced me in such a positive way and I hope that I have that same influence on someone else.

The next time someone is new to town, remember YOU might be their first impression. First impressions make a difference and the effect on our community is unmeasurable. Remember the old saying, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

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