VICTORIA, BC, Oct. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Two years ago, when Daisy Leslie Orser and Adam Orser uprooted their family and moved across the province to open The Root Cellar Village Green Grocer in Victoria, they knew the city was hungry for the fresh local produce they planned to sell. But they couldn't have predicted just how hungry: Their business has grown to five times the size they had projected and continues to expand to keep up with voracious demand. For this achievement, Daisy, 30, and Adam, 35, have won BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for British Columbia and will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Ottawa.
"The 100-mile diet trend really works in our favour," points out Daisy. The Root Cellar's winning approach includes stocking store shelves with fresh local produce from suppliers who range from small "mom and pop" backyard garden plot growers to large greenhouse operators. "We recognize that healthy soil, clean air, fresh water and a happy planet are vital to our success. Recycling programs, composting initiatives and waste reduction efforts are core elements of our business practices."
They offer both conventional and organic products, and their philosophy is based on buying produce from growers and farmers who are as close to home as possible. They combine this approach with competitive pricing and an unwavering focus on customer service. "We're selling a shopping experience. The store smells and looks good. It's clean, vibrant and inviting, and our staff is upbeat, friendly and knowledgeable," Daisy says. The staff now numbers 50, a far cry from the dozen or so employees they had expected to have hired at this point.
Ingredients of success
The local population has embraced the Root Cellar shopping experience so enthusiastically that Daisy and Adam have had to race to keep up with demand, adding extra tills, buggies and outdoor tents, and they are currently looking at expanding. "Victoria is the right demographic for what we're doing," explains Daisy. "Our customers appreciate the effort that goes into sourcing the products they buy." That effort is what sets them apart from most other grocers; it involves establishing and managing relationships with more than 100 growers and suppliers. In so doing, they eliminate the warehousing step, which saves them a mark-up and allows them to offer competitive pricing. "We're also often putting more money into the farmers' pockets than they'd see otherwise."
To manage the challenges of their rapidly growing business, Daisy and Adam draw on previous experience in the grocery sector, smart business planning and their passion for what they're doing. "We're gathering feedback, taking it to heart and applying it as we grow," says Daisy. "People know when you're personally invested, and that's what has made us successful." The couple has made a point of becoming involved in their community, joining local business networks and supporting local food banks, schools and non-profit organizations.
"Daisy and Adam have built a thriving business centred on society's growing awareness of the value of fresh, local produce. Customers appreciate their personal commitment, and the energy and passion they bring to this endeavour," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
Earlier this year, the business garnered two other honours, winning the 2009 New Business Award from the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, as well as three Best of the City Awards. "When we were working on our business plan, we had a quote on our bulletin board that said, 'Fortune favours the brave,'" says Daisy. "I believe you have to be brave to launch a business. You have to love what you're doing and put your heart into it."
Recognition for young leaders
A major feature of Small Business Week, BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards recognize the entrepreneurial spirit and the business and leadership accomplishments of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners are selected by panels of business people from across the country, who consider the originality of the business concept, success, growth potential and social involvement. They also take into account the entrepreneur's age when the business was started and any special challenges that were overcome.
2009 YEA and Small Business Week partners
Platinum partners of the 2009 Young Entrepreneur Awards and Small Business Week are Deloitte and Export Development Canada. Gold partners are Borden Ladner Gervais and Maclean's.
BDC is Canada's business development bank. From more than 100 offices across the country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. Visit www.bdc.ca for more information.
Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.
SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada
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