Getting Down to Business with Kim Wilson of Lucy’s Market
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Small businesses have gotten a lot of visibility over the last two years.
As the world slowed down and dealt with a pandemic, we were more aware of the businesses on the corner that weren’t focused on five-year plans but were focused on next months’ payroll to survive. It brought front and center a look at how small businesses work and interestingly, as the world reset, it seemed to inspire a whole new culture of entrepreneurs and people who’d like to be their own boss.
But running a small business isn’t for the faint of heart. As the last two years have proven, the safety net looks very different for a small business than it does for a big company. And as we move beyond worries and reset with opportunities, we thought it would be fun to talk to a small business about success, resets and lessons learned.
If you’re in Atlanta, it won’t surprise you that we went straight to Lucy’s Market to talk to Kim Wilson. But if you’re listening from another city, here’s what you should know.
Lucy’s Market is the special place in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta where you go for fresh vegetables and leave with the makings of a party. Or you dash in for a bottle of wine and a favorite cheese and leave with the serving pieces that make it look like you worked harder than you did to create a setting. It’s a local spot with warmth, charm, a little spunk… and an expanded list of offerings that seem to have evolved effortlessly over the years.
In this episode, Sally talks with Kim Wilson, the founder of Lucy’s Market. Kim shares her story and more about what it took to build Lucy’s Market.
More about Kim Wilson
Kim Wilson has always had a passion for fresh produce and florals, spending a number of years growing an extensive vegetable garden in her backyard. However, she never considered evolving that passion into a career until she was ready for a change after working in advertising sales for over 25 years. At the same time, a gas station was abandoned on Roswell Road in the heart of Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. Kim took over the space in 2009 and turned it into a farmer’s market, establishing Lucy’s Market. The market’s growth ultimately led Kim to move it inside the gas station before expanding and moving to another location. In 2017, Kim relocated to where the market stands today. Named after Kim’s love for her grandmother and daughter, Lucy’s Market still carries the same deep roots and many of the same customers since the early days. Over the past 12 years, Lucy’s has ripened into not only an admired farmer’s market but a specialty store, gift shop, and floral boutique.
- Who is Lucy?
- Kim Wilson’s grandmother was named Lucille, and she named her daughter after her grandmother.
- Was Lucy’s Market a grand vision, or did it evolve?
- The market began very small with Kim’s love for veggies grown in her backyard. Lucy’s started as a place to get fresh veggies Monday-Saturday, and then the business spread word of mouth. Kim had over 30 years of sales experience before starting Lucy’s Market started.
- The business moved around a bit and evolved, and the concept followed. Location and parking are the most important things when moving. She seeks wide-open locations with lots of space. Her experience in real estate has helped her understand the value of location.
- How did she grow this?
- Using her sales experience, she got to know each customer by name and worked to understand what they liked and what they were looking to purchase.
- The Business Today:
- Currently, 7000 sqft retail space, 8000 feet of office and storage to hold seasonal inventory.
- 30 employees, many are part-time with a core full-time team.
- Seasonal employees are hired in addition to the 30 consistent year-round employees.
- Market is open Mon-Sat
- They sell fresh produce, locally prepared food, wine, flower arrangements, gifts, and gift baskets.
- How do you decide what to offer?
- Decisions are made based on customer desire.
- 85% of the business are women.
- What has surprised you most in terms of what people come in to buy?
- The generosity of her customers – lots of gift baskets sold daily.
- Lucy’s Market is about creating memories.
- Was the pandemic rough for Lucys?
- The hours were changed, but they could stay open through the pandemic because they sold food – curbside and delivery. They made it easy for the customers to purchase, and Lucy’s Market grew. Prior to the pandemic, they had a solid customer base. They swiftly shifted the method but didn’t need to build the base.
- They started doing a weekly video that became extremely popular and helped build an audience in Atlanta and nationally. In January of 2020, they took products online. Now they are completely online as well and open in-person. They promote things daily, and the users will go online and purchase.
- Between 5 and 10% of sales online are predicted for next year.
- Mistakes that Lucy’s Market has learned from?
- She’s made mistakes but continues to listen to customers.
- When introducing new products, you have to train your customers to pick up products from Lucy’s.
- How do you know when the time is right?
- Fresh flowers are going online.
- Delia Designs for Lucy’s Market
- When have you learned about risk?
- Many things work out. When it comes to risk, make sure you have something lined up and things to back it up.
- What is next?
- Another location, being open and accepting new opportunities
- Kim Wilson’s BackgroundNo background in retail but 30 years in sales.
- She knows what she likes, knows how to get it.
- Pay people well to keep good workers. Because of great workers, they’ve been able to grow.
- Kim understands marketing and learning to manage her team, putting the right people in the right place.
- Marketing is essential – understand social media and utilize your online platforms. People get their information online, so you need to be online.
- Lucy’s Market posts something every day, and they do weekly videos.
- Referrals and Hiring
- Lucy’s Market used to employ friends and family but now referrals come to Kim through friends of friends – currently, no family working for them.
- 2-3 Golden Rules For A Small Business Owner
- 1. Customer service is key – be nice to everybody
- 2. Create an experience for your customer
- 3. Always be positive – being positive is a key to life.
- “I’ve made something, and I think it’s going to be around for a while.” – Kim Wilson
Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!