This is the latest entry in a series called Who Owns That. We've asked readers on our LinkedIn group to identify their favourite small businesses from across Canada, and we track down the owners so they can tell us their stories. Their answers are edited.
Introducing Evan MacDonald, owner of The Village Grocer.
1. Let's start with the basics. Can you briefly describe your business, including when it was founded, what it does, and where you operate?
We operate in Unionville, Ont., and have been here and in the general area for 28 years. We are a high-quality food store with an emphasis on old-fashioned, made-on-the-premises products – all from scratch, made like you would have in the past, or even now if you had the inclination, time and knowledge. We make probably 500 different items in all, from shortbread to bacon.
We have put great care into the arrangement and feel of our surroundings, and the result is a comfortable and cozy, friendly, personable, quaint and very service-oriented store. It's our vision of what a food store was like at one time, and should be now.
2. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur and to branch out on your own with this idea?
I worked many years in a corporate environment and learned all the things that weren't possible to do corporately, yet I knew it could somehow be done, and that it would be appreciated by many.
3. Who are your typical customers, and how do they find you?
There aren't any. Our constituents are folks who want better food and service. Some very wealthy people do not eat well, while others of modest means value good food.
4. What are the roles of you and your co-founder in the business? Do you have any employees?
My role is to keep our quality point of view in focus in the day-to-day running of our business, as well as in the more strategic long-term vision. It's the guiding light for our business, and I, and our key associates, are the keepers of the light, even when it's stormy (in a business sense). There are about 130 people who work in our store, and each plays a valued role.
5. You've been identified by one of our readers as a standout business. What do you consider the key element of your success?
I usually say it's luck, in the sense that we have been lucky enough to be able to do what we think is the right thing, have fun doing it, and be supported by many who wholeheartedly agree with us.
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