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Meet Cameron Cook of Walsh Village Market in Fort Worth

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cameron Cook.

Cameron, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
The Village Market opened its doors to serve the WALSH community in August of 2017. It was pretty slow going at first as we watched the first wave of homes being built up and down Walsh Avenue. Two and a half years later, we are consistently seeing more and more customers walk through our doors. Our busiest time of the day is typical during the morning rush-hour commute. Between the hundreds of children being dropped off at Walsh Elementary and the hundreds of residents about to head out on their morning commute, we always have a steady flow of customer traffic coming to pick up breakfast tacos, coffee, energy bars, etc. We also see a good amount of business during the after-school rush. We have board games, giant Jenga and a beautiful courtyard where the kids can run around, and parents can catch up with one another.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I think anytime you are going into a new project or development, there’s going to be an infinite amount of ‘unknowns’ out there. Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 26th, 2017, only eight days after our grand opening. A few days later, the gas prices skyrocketed, tripling over just a few hours. It was pretty crazy because no one knew we were out here. While nearly every other station in Fort Worth was experiencing hour-long lines and empty tanks, we never ran out of gas. Word eventually spread that we still had fuel, so it was pretty neat to hear how far people had traveled to come to find our little store. August 31st, 2017 is still our single-day record for fuel sales.

We also noticed that there was a pretty big technology gap in the gas station world when it came to the point-of-sale systems. We’ve experimented with a few options and are exploring new and creative ways to engage our customers digitally down the road. We are currently using a system which allows us to pull up a customer’s purchase history which comes in handy when a customer is like, my husband bought this bottle of wine last week, but forgot to write down the name. We also have digital solutions for emailing/texting receipts directly to a customer which has saved us an enormous amount of unnecessary receipt paper. We also have some pretty awesome free WiFi.

Please tell us about your business.
The Village Market is a small, neighborhood market and gas station that serves the residents of the WALSH community and those who support it. We wear many hats in our community from event space to coffee shop to neighborhood hangout. We feel like we have a deeply-rooted connection in our community.

We have an incredible staff here; it’s great to see customers who are happy to come in just to say hi to their favorite cashier and catch up with them.

We also feel like we’ve taken some small steps that put us out in front of your normal c-store. We have an electric vehicle and Tesla charging stations. We have experimented with ‘better-for-you’ products that you might not normally find a gas station. Items like Holy Kombucha, RXBar, Siete Grain-Free Chips, and Applegate Naturals Charcuterie snack packs are some elevated offerings that perform quite well and set us apart. We also just picked up some locally-made, fresh salsa from Blended Family Foods and carry an assortment of tamales from The Tamale Company based out of Dallas.

We are also a tobacco-free store, which shocks people from time-to-time, but the majority of our customers applaud us for that. We just started carrying beer and wine and we’re excited to see where that goes from here. I am a bit of a wine nerd and I’m hoping that there’s an opportunity to share some of my enthusiasm for the esoteric wines of the world with my customers. I recently passed the Certified Sommelier exam so I’ve been ‘tasting’ quite a bit of wine lately.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I think our community is a wonderful place to operate a business. Our customer base is so enthusiastic about the concept and they’re also offering valuable feedback on product selection, cool event ideas, and more.

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Image Credit:
Republic Property Group

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