David Taylor is one half of the two founders of Libbie Market, which has since expanded to a team of three partners. Formerly operated by Ukrop's under the name Joe's Market, the local community started a "Save the Market" campaign, so David and his business partner, Buster, did just that.
We were able to sit down with David where we learned more about what led him to opening Libbie Market and how one set-back proved to be beneficial to the neighborhood store in the long-run.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in Richmond. Although I did interview for a couple jobs elsewhere, I am very glad that I ultimately stayed here.
Q: What are you passionate about in your personal life?
A: Making memories by spending time with my family. We are a close family and spend a lot of time together.
Q: What did you study in school?
A: I completed most of my undergraduate work at VCU, but I don’t actually hold an undergraduate degree. When I was a store manager at Ukrop’s, my boss wanted me to apply for the Executive MBA program at William & Mary. He told me that they accept one person into the class each year that does not have a completed undergraduate degree if you do well on the GMAT and the interviews, so that’s how I ended up getting my MBA.
Q: Tell me about your career before becoming an entrepreneur / business owner.
A: I worked as a Director of Ukrop’s, which is how I brought the operational experience to Libbie Market.
Q: What is Libbie Market?
A: Libbie Market is your store. It’s a friendly, upscale place to shop in your neighborhood where you build tradition and memories that you can always come home to. We offer your traditional grocery items, but we are known for our Prepared Meals, Bakery, Libbie Market Cafe, and even more specialty offerings.
Q: Tell me about the transition from your career to entrepreneurship / why you started your business?
A: When we knew the sale of Ukrop’s to Martin’s was imminent, I began looking for a new job. My current partner, Buster, who was my boss at that time, suggested I wait. We figured that whatever major company buying Ukrop’s would not be interested in this location, so we decided to go into business together and save the market.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: We opened our doors February 8th, 2010, so a little over 9 years now.
Q: What was the biggest surprise as a business owner from working as an employee?
A: You’re never really “off,” but it doesn’t really feel like work either. You aren’t clocking in and out. It’s the reality that, as an owner, you have to be available 24/7.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges in growing the business? What have you done differently as a result?
A: We actually opened a second store back in 2012. We thought we could recreate this quaint feel that we have here and transfer it to a store that was really more like a supermarket. It failed miserably, but we learned a lot to make ourselves stronger here and pay even more attention to our customers. We really try to make connections with people and our neighborhood because that’s what our customers need and care about.
Q: As a successful business owner, do you have work / life balance? How have you managed to improve the joy and fulfillment in your life?
A: When we started the business, I had one great partner. Now I have two, and I couldn’t imagine doing this by myself. Even though it is all of our business, we do a good job dividing the duties and trusting each other to do our own work.
Q: What can we and others in the community do to help your business grow and be more successful?
A: Give us good honest feedback when we fail to meet your expectations so we have the opportunity to improve.
Q: What advice would you give other entrepreneurs / small business owners?
A: You can do it. Don’t let fear paralyze you.
“How I Got Started...” is a blog series that spotlights the entrepreneurial and life journeys of various small business owners and professionals. The content of this blog was curated by members of the CreativeMktGroup team.