Pro­duce pop-up finds per­ma­nent place En­ter­prise, C1

Legacy Greens’ On­tario Street lo­ca­tion will bring big­ger kitchen, sta­bil­ity

Waterloo Region Record - - FRONT PAGE - Brent Davis, Record staff

KITCH­ENER — When Jor­dan Dol­son opened the doors to Legacy Greens in the sum­mer of 2015, she de­scribed it as a pop-up shop fea­tur­ing fresh pro­duce and other foods.

The store has oper­ated near the corner of King and Queen streets in down­town Kitch­ener ever since. And next year, Dol­son is plan­ning a short move to a build­ing she’s pur­chased on On­tario Street just a block or so away.

Dol­son is the first to ad­mit she didn’t know if suc­cess would be cer­tain.

“There is a lit­tle bit of un­cer­tainty when you do some­thing like this,” she says. “When some­one takes a risk, and it ac­tu­ally works … that’s what small busi­ness is.”

Bit­ten by the en­tre­pre­neur­ial bug, she left a job as a deputy clerk at a nearby town­ship. But Dol­son, who grew up on a farm near Lis­towel, had done her home­work.

She’d no­ticed the preva­lence, and pop­u­lar­ity, of small in­de­pen­dent gro­cers while she was liv­ing in B.C. as a stu­dent. She did her re­search, and saw an op­por­tu­nity for some­thing sim­i­lar in down­town Kitch­ener. She tested the wa­ters with a sea­son at the farm­ers’ mar­ket in Strat­ford, sell­ing pro­duce she’d grown on a quar­ter-acre plot at her par­ents’ Legacy Hol­steins farm. She then spent a cou­ple of months at the Kitch­ener mar­ket in the months lead­ing up to the store’s open­ing.

“That was ex­cel­lent,” she says. “I got to talk to cus­tomers in the area and re­cruit them to the store.” The mar­ket ex­pe­ri­ence was as much about mar­ket­ing as it was about sales.

She’s since seen steady, man­age­able growth, with monthly sales some­times up 50 per cent from the year be­fore. “I think we’re at that sweet spot for growth.”

This sum­mer, she pur­chased a two-storey build­ing at 18 On­tario St. N. Fol­low­ing ren­o­va­tions, she plans to move Legacy Greens there next year. The first floor will be the re­tail space, while a kitchen — where store man­ager Erin Felder pro­duces pre­pared foods like soups, hum­mus, sal­ads, dips and fresh rolls — will be lo­cated on the sec­ond floor.

Dol­son says it’s “a dream” to own her own build­ing, giv­ing her free­dom from rent in­creases and more se­cu­rity go­ing for­ward. While the re­tail space is a bit smaller than her cur­rent shop, the kitchen will be larger.

Fresh pro­duce is front and cen­tre at Legacy Greens, with about 75 per cent sourced from lo­cal grow­ers dur­ing the sum­mer months. Dol­son grows harder-to-find goods such as cherry toma­toes and ground cher­ries at her plot. “I try to fo­cus on crops that are unique, but there’s a de­mand for.”

Some in­ter­na­tional ba­sics like ba­nanas and av­o­ca­dos are pop­u­lar, too, and once stor­age crops like ap­ples and squash run out by

late win­ter, there’s a greater fo­cus on im­ports from the United States and Mex­ico. Dol­son only sells some items, like as­para­gus, when it’s in sea­son lo­cally.

While cus­tomers some­times seize on cer­tain food trends, “I think pro­duce in gen­eral is just an on­go­ing move­ment up­wards in terms of de­mand,” she says.

But there’s a lot more than just pro­duce in store at Legacy Greens.

The store car­ries some other lo­cal gro­ceries like meat, cheese, milk and ice cream. Along with the pre­pared foods that Felder makes, it brings in sushi from A Taste of Seoul once a week, and it is plan­ning to in­tro­duce chili on Tues­days in Jan­uary.

There’s also a se­lec­tion of lo­cal gift op­tions, in­clud­ing Nith Val­ley Api­aries honey and golden birch syrup from Wa­gram Springs in Moore­field, choco­late from Am­brosia Pas­try, caramels from Hugo & Nate, and soaps from Cam­bridge’s Buck Naked Soap Com­pany.

While cus­tomers can shop on­line, there’s more se­lec­tion in-store. “I think peo­ple are crav­ing ex­pe­ri­ences,” Dol­son adds.

Many of their cus­tomers are reg­u­lars; the four-per­son staff know many by name. “Peo­ple come in be­cause it’s a very per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence in the store,” Felder says.

Dol­son says she’s en­cour­aged to see other new busi­nesses like Show & Tell Cof­fee open­ing nearby. “Not enough busi­nesses are open­ing, but it will hap­pen and I’d love to see more of it,” she says.

“I’m op­ti­mistic. I re­ally love our com­mu­nity here, and I feel that this com­mu­nity will grow as we in­ten­sify the down­town, which gives us a fun op­por­tu­nity to grow our busi­ness.”

BRENT DAVIS, RECORD STAFF

Jor­dan Dol­son, left, owner of Legacy Greens, and store man­ager Erin Felder are look­ing for­ward to mov­ing the busi­ness next year to a build­ing Dol­son pur­chased on On­tario Street North.

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