June 2018 – Driver’s Market opened in May 2013 with a lot of community support and big dreams for the future. Today the market is a bustling Sausalito hub. We sat down with Adam Driver to look back over the last five years and talk about what the future holds.
How does Driver’s Market today compare to what you pictured five years ago?
Adam Driver: In a word, bigger. I think the original business plan called for about 15 total employees. At this point we fluctuate between 35 and 40. That’s a lot of personalities and a lot of moving parts, and with that comes a level of complexity that is beyond what I had imagined. But there are also plenty of aspects that have stayed true to the original business plan, like our dedication to sourcing ethically produced foods and running an environmentally sustainable business.
What do you think has lead to the success of the market?
In business school I was taught that the biggest factor in any business’s success is the people that it employs. I would say that definitely holds true at Driver’s. I can’t tell you how many people have approached Graham, Paul, or myself, and told us how amazing our staff is and how much they enjoy coming into the market and interacting with them. I can honestly say that our market feels like a family to me at this point. It’s pretty special.
Of course I also have to mention our product selection. We make a point of sourcing unique and interesting products from small, independent producers of all kinds. That kind of dedication takes a lot of time and effort. For example, at this point Graham is ordering from well over 100 different vendors just to fill our grocery shelves. He forms a relationship with each of those vendors in order to ensure that the product meets our standards, and to figure out how best to market and sell the product. If you were at our 5th Anniversary party last month, you got a glimpse into just how unique and interesting each food producer is, and how each one has its own story to tell.
What has been the biggest surprise in the first five years?
I would say the biggest surprise is just how much the community has embraced us. I never imagined we would be such a big part of the Sausalito community, and it’s something that brings me a lot of joy and pride on a daily basis.
What has been the hardest part of running your own business?
For me personally, it’s the staffing and scheduling. It’s pretty tough to juggle the needs of 35 people, most of whom either have families, school, or a second job to coordinate with, and find a way to keep the market staffed and running well day after day.
What is the most rewarding aspect of running the market?
Empowering our staff to be creative and seeing what great ideas they come up with. I look at Driver’s not as a business that I or a few of us created, but as a living organism that grows and is shaped by the creativity of every person who works here. I hope that thinking like that leads to a more interesting place to shop.
Do you have a favorite moment in the first five years?
Well, I did meet the love of my life at the market, so that has to take the top spot. But aside from that, I actually think that our 5th Anniversary block party last month is at or near the top of the list. Seeing so many of our favorite vendors and customers having a great time, the live music, and having our family in town to witness it was pretty amazing.
What was the scariest moment so far?
Not many people are aware of this, but we actually had a pretty scary moment a few years back when the back prep area flooded. I got a frantic knock on the door at 2 in the morning one night. It was Graham, telling me that a late-night delivery driver had called him and said that there was a flood at the market. It wasn’t raining, so I was a bit confused. When we got the market it was like it was raining in the back prep area – water was pouring down through the ceiling at an alarming rate, and there was already about a foot of water on the ground. It was pretty stressful. We found the cause and stopped the leak, but it was pretty scary. It actually caused us to shut down the prep area for about a month while we got everything repaired. Pretty crazy.
What’s next for Driver’s Market?
Right now we’re just starting to develop a catering program that we’re pretty excited about. We’ll keep everyone posted when it’s ready to go!
Where do you see the market in another five years from now?
Hopefully just continuing to enrich the Sausalito community, I guess. Honestly I don’t have a specific vision, but I can’t wait to see where our amazing staff takes us in the next five years!