There are farmers and makers behind every product at Driver’s Market, and many of them are small, local operations. Last month, we co-hosted a small business panel at Driver’s with our friends at Barnraiser, a Sausalito-based crowdfunding platform for the food world. When inviting panelists, we looked no further than the selection in our store for a world of entrepreneurs to choose from. We welcomed friends from Mimi’s Confitures, Wrecking Ball Coffee, Marin Kombucha, Point Reyes Farmstead Creamery, and Beck’s Bakery for a discussion about what it takes to run your own food business in the Bay Area.
Our customers know that we are passionate about food and people, and that we trace each of our products back to the makers — that’s part of our mission at Driver’s Market. We buy products from over 250 individual businesses, a big number compared to most grocery stores. It takes extra resources to fill our shelves with top products from independent businesses, but to Adam Driver it’s part of what makes Driver’s special. “There are a lot of grocers that wouldn’t deal with as many independent accounts as we source from. It takes a lot of time and I think that separates us from other grocery stores,” he said.
Having a great selection of food requires our buyers to go above and beyond. Our produce manager, Lauren Miller, makes a weekly trek to the farmer’s market to find the freshest and best produce available. Lauren also keeps an eye out for great new products from small companies, many of which start out at farmer’s markets. On Fridays, Graham Driver visits the Zen Center‘s Green Gulch Bread Bakery to purchase their outstanding breads. Besides the Zen Center and some farmer’s markets, Driver’s is the only place to find Green Gulch Bread.
As the grocery buyer, Graham really gets to know the vendors he buys from, a part of the job that he loves: learning the stories of the new vendors, visiting them, and understanding their sources and techniques.
“I’ve often thought of Driver’s as a platform for small businesses to succeed in the food industry,” said Adam. Direct sourcing, and getting to know the people and their products may take extra time, but it’s also what we are most passionate about.