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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

#CelebratingOthers with Sam, the Man-ager, at Libbie Market

While in the RVA (Richmond, VA), I was sent by “The Best Daughter” on a few errands around town - post office, UPS, and grocery store. You get the picture.

On one errand I ran, there was only street parking near the establishment I needed to access, but no other parallel parking spaces were available. So, I turned down the next street to see if there would be additional parking. Nope. But, never fear, a cute local grocery store called Libbie’s Market had a back parking lot on that street. I swung in like an Eagle on a jumping fish to a slim parking spot (I was in a Honda Civic). People were running in and out, and I made a mental note to go into Libbie’s once I finished my errand up the street.

It took me maybe a half hour to finally walk into Libbie’s. It has a Boulder, Colorado vibe (at least to me) with brands different from those of a grocery store chain. The veggies looked fresh, they catered to the locals, and they had a robust bakery. I figured I could buy a thing or two if I parked there for a spell. And a homemade tall drink of iced tea sounded delicious just about the same time I entered this cute market.

As I was meandering down the skinny aisles, checking out the goods (and services they offer), I found a line near the fountain drinks and iced tea - sweet and unsweetened- offered in huge “kettles,” if you will. I waited patiently for the lady ahead of me to fill her cup, grab some ice, and perfectly place a slice of lemon on top of her unsweetened iced tea choice. She left to pay for her tea and a basket of odds and ends (I looked into her Libbie basket - and no, I am not nosey; it was right in front of me).

Now, it was my turn. I reached for the clear plastic medium-sized cup and turned the spigot toward me to pour the unsweetened tea, which promptly began to trickle. OK, I thought, I’ve been here before, draining a big silver kettle of tea. I grabbed the top of the cylinder kettle, tilted it toward me once again, and tried to pour the remaining tea. No dice. A trickle had filled my cup to about 2/3 of the way to the top. The color was odd, but I attributed that to the end of the barrel. Without missing a beat, I put my cup under the lemonade spigot to give my tea a splash (or to fill the remaining third - a bigger splash than usual. Not one to leave the opportunity for a freshly sliced lemon like the lady before me, I gingerly selected the juiciest one and placed it in my cup.

By this time, a line had formed for the unsweetened tea. Apparently, it is a hot commodity in the community. Who knew? Libbie’s even had larger containers for their customers to fill with their now-I-thought-world-famous iced tea! Ha! The folks in line behind me were all ready to fill their vessels with this precious commodity. Again, who knew? I certainly did not. I grabbed a straw and headed to the checkout line.

Following the lady before me, I paid my $2.10 and salivated for that first sip. I inserted the red straw and took a huge gulp (should have been a sip!) of my perfectly concocted iced tea. Whoa! YUK! It was so terrible I almost spit it out at the registers. Could it be me and my taste buds that the gulp was so awful? So, silly me decided to make sure it was that awful and took another, but this time, sip. Yep, terrible. YUK!

Instead of heading out the door, I returned to the fountain drinks. I bet you could guess who was before me to complain about the awful taste. Yes, the lady who was ahead of me to get the drink and checkout registers was asking (complaining to) an employee about the emptied canister of tea. The employee was no help. He attempted to look into the canister, mumbled some unintelligible words, and fiddled with the empty iced tea container that took too long. He finally decided to walk up to the registers to find the boss - or the store manager - for much-needed help.

All the gathered ice tea lovers (now I was a part of the crowd), longing for a hit like a person with an addiction in a methadone clinic, were clamoring. Some folks were holding up their vessels and asking aloud when the tank would be ready for consumption. A few moments later, Sam, the store manager, walked back to see the commotion at the drink fountain area. He also checked the empty cylinder and shrugged, saying it would take a while before any tea would be ready for consumption.

Sam then waved to me and the lady in front of me to follow him to a refrigerated case of homemade orange juice, other juices, and the beloved iced tea. However, the fridge had no premade iced tea. Instead, (I am finally getting to the point now, aren’t you happy?) Sam opened a Goldpeak iced tea and offered it to me and the other lady. As I uttered, “Sure,” he gladly poured the dark caramel-colored tea into my awaiting cup.

A few thoughts immediately crossed my mind. First, what a great way for Sam to think on his feet and solve the “easy” problem of opening up another iced tea to two thirsty dames. Second, I thought of The Marketing Seminar (TMS14) with my Koala ladies and how, as solopreneurs, we have learned to handle similar situations in each of our businesses, just like Sam. Third, I wanted to take Sam’s photo and write a blog post (PS post) about the whole good experience. I did, and here it is - with Sam’s permission, of course.

While leaving Libbie’s, I quenched my thirst, #celebrated the good things about the experience with Sam the Man-ager, and will go back the next time I’m in the RVA. Perhaps a homemade Libbie Tea will be available with no wait times...and fa resh-cut lemon for the garnish (and taste).

It's the little things...



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