By DANIELLE REID
Some families leave their children a tangible legacy in the form of real estate or perhaps something like an antique car collection, valuable or sentimental objects.
However, the most treasured form of a legacy can be considered to be an intangible gift, such as family values, memories, love and respect.
Debbie and Garry (aka Earl) Marion have chosen to do both.
Since early January, the couple came out of retirement with plans to build and leave a thriving business for their children and grandchildren. Known as the “Family Market and Corner Deli,” they have pooled the family talents and solid business experiences, coupled with long hours and hard work, to open a combination deli and convenience store in Pulaski.
Located at 825 E. Main Street in the building where Guida’s Market used to be, they are open seven days a week from 6 a.m to 9 p.m. They serve breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., lunch and dinner. Customers can eat-in or take-out meals that are prepared in the store. They can also purchase sliced lunch meats and assorted cheeses at the deli counter.
According to Debbie, customer service is of utmost importance.
“We want to provide high quality food and help build the community’s economy in a positive way. We want our customers to know that they are welcome at the Family Market and Corner Deli, and we hope to create a family-friendly environment where people feel comfortable and appreciated.”
Both Debbie and Garry have years of customer service and business experience. Garry gained experience as a youngster while working with his parents’ “mom and pop” stores in Wytheville and at Pepper Grocery in Fairlawn. His father was a meat cutter and instructed Garry in that profession and in retail management. Garry used that combined knowledge to work for eight years at Wades in Christiansburg, Food Lion (20 years) and Wal-Mart where he retired after 20 years of service. His expertise was in the fresh foods sector.
Debbie also worked for Food Lion (four times – they kept calling her back to work for them), Wal-Mart and in finance and collections for another business as a trouble shooter. When she retired from the collections business, she wanted to find something fun and fulfilling to do with her time – so she bought an ice cream truck. Naming it “Nana’s Sweets and Treats,” she drove around the neighborhoods bringing smiles to childrens’ faces.
“After working in the collections business where all you saw were frowns, I just wanted to see kids smile. It brought me tears of joy to make kids happy,” she related. The ice cream truck has since been re-purposed as a food service truck and can be seen at many places, including the Thornspring Farm Festivals.
“So many people know us from our former business associations, recreation and hobbies, and they are excited for us and are helping to build our customer base,” added Garry. “We also like the personal interaction we have with our customers. Many have become our ‘regulars,’ sharing their stories as they pick up their orders; and returning daily for breakfast or dinner.”
Garry has a practical approach to their store.
“Everybody gets hungry and wants to eat. We want to be an option for them. We have seating for 12 people, but plan to expand the deli so we can keep up with the increasing demand.”
Although they are a new business in town, the family wants to convey that they are not there to be in competition with other similar businesses – only with themselves. They want everyone in business to succeed and do well.
All three of their children, Julie Webb, Jaimee Scott and Jeremy Marion, as well as Debbie’s brother Mike Williams, are contributing their experience, talents and time to promote the family venture. Each of their children takes a shift to be the store manager and make daily decisions.
Jeremy can be seen running the cash register, taking phone orders, working the deli counter, as well as ordering food and supplies to keep everything flowing smoothly. His girlfriend, Katrina Hawks, works with the family, also.
Jeremy sets a high standard for the food they prepare.
“We make every dish and meal as if it was for ourselves. The portions are generous and we won’t sell anything we wouldn’t serve to our own family. We hope to be here a very long time, serving the community.”
Jeremy says the family tried to open a store in the past, but the timing wasn’t right. As a man of faith, he credits God for the correct location and timing.
“I am blessed beyond measure, and I want everyone to know that God changed my life. He is real and as important today as ever. Every day I pray to get closer to God; and trust that He is leading us in making good decisions,” he confessed.
As Debbie and Garry guide and train the family in the mechanics of running the enterprise, they also believe that there is a higher power that leads them.
From the miraculous coincidence of driving past the building and seeing a “for rent” sign on the door, to the inspired idea of opening a combination deli and convenience store, to the wonderful support they are receiving from the community, their bank and technically adept family, they are truly amazed and grateful.
As we talk, Garry surveys the cluster of customers chatting with his family members at the deli as his son prepares their take-out boxes. “Both Debbie and I know this venture is temporary for us. As soon as we are able, we’ll turn the reins over to our kids,” he says as he contemplates the future.
Then the couple, who have been married for 44-years, will be off to another adventure – but “retirement” doesn’t seem to be in their vocabulary.
Please visit their Facebook page for a menu and daily specials. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100088811109914&mibextid=LQQJ4d