There’s a small greengrocer store about two blocks from where I live. It opened its doors last summer. I live alone and was thrilled there was somewhere close by I could walk to for my groceries. It’s called Old School Emporium and the concept is based on the old-fashioned small market where you can buy staples for your kitchen. The market is a wide open space filled with antiques and interesting old photos. When it first opened, it didn’t have a lot of product on its shelves but what was there was fresh and local.

I asked the young and friendly-looking guy behind the counter about the shop – I’m always interested in the story behind the business. Turns out he and his wife used to work for a large ad agency here; they’re both foodies and they decided to try to make a go of this venture. I go there every couple of days so I don’t buy produce that ends up wilting and in the garbage. Their prices are quite reasonable — in fact, surprisingly low compared to the near big box supermarket that’s only a few blocks away. But that’s not what keeps me going there. Every time I shop, I have a great experience. The owners ask me how I’m doing, the young woman working the till talks to me and all three of them are genuinely interested. There’s none of the canned “How’s your day going?” without looking at me that I get at the Safeway. I can get cooking advice from them or ideas on how to use their products in a different way. They’re excited and passionate about what they’re doing – they care about the business and about providing delicious goods to their customers. The owners are knowledgeable and ensure that what they’re providing to their customers is the best local product they can find. Because of this, their customers care about them. I’m rooting for them to be a success; so are my neighbours and some of the other shop owners and staff in the area. Everyone likes them.

What’s your Why?

We like them because they’ve connected with us. And because they’re clear on their Why. They opened this shop because they love food and cooking and they wanted to provide the best ingredients they could find to people like them who want good food and are concerned about the environment. And because of that I care about their success as do others.