Inspiring Creative Growth

Corporate America leaves an indelible mark on a person. In some cases, such as using goofy acronyms and using words like “debrief” instead of “talk,” it’s not such a great thing. In other cases, like clearly defining objectives (or mission), it is quite a good thing. Does a small business need a mission statement? I don’t know, but establishing a mission statement is part of my corporate America DNA, so F. Oliver’s has one and here it is:

F. Oliver’s will inspire creative growth for its employees, customers and community and will attract a loyal following by offering

  • A professional, yet warm and welcoming environment
  • A distinct, fun, and informative store experience
  • The freshest and best selection of high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars in Upstate New York

During the first days getting the store open and running I thought about the mission statement a couple of times and laughed to myself; it seemed like a silly, irrelevant luxury amidst the numerous nuts and bolts tasks requiring attention. Then some remarkable things happened.

First, customers started returning to tell me what they had made with their F. Oliver’s purchases. One had done a pasta dish with the Mediterranean Cassis Balsamic Vinegar and the Sage and Wild Harvest Mushroom Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). Another made a “salsa” from tropical fruit, cucumbers, cilantro, and Creamy Coconut Balsamic with Fresh Pressed Persian Lime EVOO, then served it on grilled fish. A third person made a thin-sliced sirloin “pizza” with Smoky Chipotle EVOO and Dark Chocolate Balsamic. Not only did each dish sound DELICIOUS, but truly creative. Clearly, each home chef had fun with the products as well.

The other thing that happened concerned the front windows. I had contacted a visually creative person I know to see if, by some chance, she would be willing to help me figure out what to do with the store windows. By coincidence, she is studying painting in Canandaigua for a few weeks and agreed to stop by. Not only did she stop by, but realizing that we needed something in the windows ASAP she took what we had on hand – some fustis and tissue paper – and assembled beautiful, colorful, fun and interesting displays. People stopped walking by and started to notice us here on Main Street.

But it didn’t stop there. Over the weekend she shopped for the best looking faux flowers and plants at the best price and came back again with these beautiful items to replace the colorful tissue paper. Now there is a massive stainless steel fusti sporting a glorious sunflower arrangement in one window and a pyramid of fustis with assorted spring greenery and butterflies in the other. Flanking the adorned fustis are small bottle arrangements, tastefully displaying what we sell here because her research on how to do store windows suggested that you always need to display what you are selling.

Every time I look at the windows I smile, not only because the arrangements are so beautiful, but because it represents the kind, helpful, and generous nature of the designer. She has many hobbies, many friends, and, I’m sure, many things to do. Yet she has spent several hours researching, thinking about, shopping for, and assembling these bright beautiful F. Oliver’s advertisements. Just when I thought that I had received way more window design help than I had any business expecting, I received an email from her. She said that she has enjoyed this project as much as I have and that she is willing to redecorate the windows seasonally. Wow! How cool is that?

So, is F. Oliver’s fulfilling its mission to inspire creative growth? I can’t answer for anyone but myself. In my case the answer is a resounding yes. I am growing and becoming more creative in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated. For our customers, if not growing creatively, at least it appears that many are thoroughly enjoying F. Oliver’s products and being very creative with them. For the window display artist, it feels like a stretch to say that F. Oliver’s inspired creative growth, but the store was at least a venue for inspired creativity. And – all of us have contributed to the “warm and welcoming environment” and the “distinct, fun, and informative store experience.” Business has been great, so maybe the mission statement isn’t an irrelevant luxury after all.

Stop by, we would love to share the F. Oliver’s experience with YOU and possibly inspire some creative growth.


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