by Jeff Delp
Living in the neighborhood where I work means I wear many different hats as a business owner, neighbor, dad, and friend. Sometimes it’s hard to know which I am at the moment, or even if I am all four combined. From my experience, I found that the most profound experiences often happen when those four roles are intertwined.
One Thursday evening, our family was walking home from the middle school baseball league at our neighborhood YMCA. We were out enjoying a beautiful early spring evening together as a family supporting our neighbors and our kids' school. (Dad and neighbor roles? Check!)
On the walk home, I spotted one of our neighbors carrying groceries home in one of Carver Market’s Food Oasis bags. She had three or four bags in tow, and I hurried up the street to give her a hand in the final two blocks back to her house. Silently I asked myself, Am I the business owner, neighbor, or friend here?
The short walk gave us a few minutes to catch up (friend), but also gave me the opportunity to do some market research and ask about her experience shopping at the store (business owner). She was quick to share how much she loves shopping on the 2 for 1 days at Carver Market and how it allows her to buy more produce than she would normally be able to. She told me about her favorite cashier and how much she loves the store.
But the picture wasn’t all rosy. She also told me she’d come in for Bacon Bits a few days before and we hadn’t had any. We take these types of feedback seriously as a staff. If someone is going to walk fifteen minutes to the store, we want them to have confidence that we will have what they are looking for!
She also told me she forgot to buy milk. Again, this may not be a huge deal for those of us accustomed to running errands quickly in our car. But for her, another trip back to the store couldn’t happen that night as we were closing and she couldn’t walk back fast enough – nor would she want to.
At that point, I was in full business owner role. I delivered milk to her first thing the next morning. And later that day, we ordered bacon bits. Gotta keep our customers happy!
We are often asked how Carver Market works. To me, this story exemplifies how we are able to do business in our community. In many businesses, people want divisions between business and personal life. They need clear and clean answers to pressing concerns. In our business and community, though, the lines are often blurry and muddled. But what emerges from this permeability tends to be more beautiful than anything we ever expected.
In one evening walk, I had the opportunity to be a friend, neighbor, dad, and business owner. That interconnectedness is what I love most about my life in South Atlanta and working with FCS. And quite frankly, it’s a big part of the secret sauce that has contributed some of Carver Market’s early successes.
If there’s one thing I regret from that evening, it’s that I missed a good Dad moment getting my kids involved to help carry our neighbor’s groceries. Oh well, can’t win them all. And the good news is that I’m sure we’ll have plenty more opportunities!