CORE VALUES

by CONNIE DUFNER / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

AARON BEASLEY wants to be absolutely, 100 percent, no-kidding transparent about the core principle of his business. If you fall in love with something else, don’t like it or for any reason want to part ways with that outdoor furniture you bought from him, call him for a refund. Even if it’s custom.

“They can take it home, enjoy it for a month, tear it up, break it, enjoy it, throw 29 parties and on day 30 get a refund,” says the ebullient owner of Palm Casual’s South Carolina locations in Charleston, Bluffton, Myrtle Beach and Summerville. “I’ll drive to their house and pick it up for free, give them a total and complete refund with no stocking fee or service fee. They don’t have to prove anything.”

Well, he wouldn’t mind if satisfied customers share their experiences with 10 or so others—friends, neighbors, coworkers. And the guarantee extends beyond returns. The furniture has a lifetime service policy. Is there a rip on that ’90s era cushion? Bring it on in. “They don’t need to apologize if a seam broke loose 30 years later,” Beasley says. “I’ll fix it and hope they tell their dinner companions about the experience.”

Of course, Beasley wouldn’t still be in business if everyone took him up on the refund and walked away for good. That’s why the company guarantees service and competitive pricing by manufacturing the furniture and selling it directly from its 18 locations. Palm Casual is also offered through select retailers.

And that’s also why the company insists on quality products and design that’s meant to last and look attractive. “When you use the best ingredients and check yourself on price, you can’t be wrong. We’ve become efficient. We supply hundreds of furniture stores all over the country, and we take pride in being an absolute price leader in the country,” Beasley says.

Palm Casual, now with outposts in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, was started in 1979 in Orlando by the family of Beasley’s best friend and college roommate, Kroy Crofoot. In a 400-square-foot space, Crofoot and his dad built PVC pipe furniture frames. His mother and grandmother sewed the cushions. By about 1982, Beasley recalls, they had such a volume that they decided on the two-pronged approach the business still uses today: sell direct from the factory and sell product to retailers.

As he was graduating from college, the family approached Beasley to work for them. “It’s the only job I’ve ever had,” he says. “I’m too afraid to lose it.” Beasley started out building furniture, then eventually managed the Daytona store. About 10 years ago, the company decided to expand to Charleston, and Beasley was made a partner.

This year, the pandemic has created new urgency for outdoor spaces, considered a lifeline for safe social gathering. Palm Casual’s generous return policy provided a safety net for customers who had to return or put off purchases because they had lost their jobs. As people adjust to a new normal, Beasley says, customers want to spruce up their homes. “For many people, outdoor furniture is the last thing you buy at your house,” he says. “You’re going to buy an indoor sofa, a bed, a refrigerator. But as people started being at home all the time, sitting outside gave them a sense of freedom.”

In addition to the company’s 30-day refund policy and lifetime repair service, another source of pride for Beasley is working with customers to not just stay within their budget but to beat it. “If a customer comes in and plans to spend $1 million and they end up spending $50, in my mind, I did a great job and that person leaves the store and tells his friends that we helped him save money,” he explains.

Spending less, he says, does not mean cutting quality; it’s a recognition that quality is available at many price points. “In my mind, you couldn’t have a better
win,” Beasley says. *

Freelance writer and editor Connie Dufner is a proud Texan transplant living in Washington, D.C. She is a former editor for Modern Luxury Dallas and The Dallas Morning News who has been covering interiors journalism since 2001.