Veggie Wagon owners Max and April Sussman are using their 12 years of business experience to not only expand their business model but allow others to become entrepreneurs.
When Garrett Shaver, the couple’s beer rep from Day 1 of opening the first Veggie Wagon, was ready to embark on a new adventure, the Sussmans knew they had a recipe for success. The couple is providing planning and design expertise, as well as assistance sourcing and providing product, and Shaver will open his own establishment, Salt Marsh Market, in Surf City within the next month or two.
“This is more of a licensing deal we’re opening,” said Max Sussman. “A long-term vendor of ours left the company he was working with and decided to open his own market. He lives out (near Surf City) and we were looking at expansion to put the next Veggie Wagon and that area was top of our list. The timing worked impeccably.”
Shaver’s market, 100-A Charlie Medlin Drlve in Surf City, will offer the same products as Veggie Wagon locations, including beer, wine, gift items, grab-and-go meals, fresh baked breads, a slushie bar, hot chocolate bar and a coffee bar, but also perhaps a few unique offerings.
“We have an operating agreement but we don’t own it,” Max Sussman said. “He can call it whatever he wants to call it and run it how he wants to run it. We provide all our products, and it's ready to plop into the market.”
The Sussmans had recent success opening their first non-Veggie Wagon market in downtown Wilmington, Bodega at 1222 S. Third St., and knew they were ready to tackle another.
The interesting benefit of this concept is owners of the Veggie Wagon-model can provide different products and work with other more local-based vendors, making each one distinct.
For example, in Carolina Beach, the Veggie Wagon sells Island Roast Coffee, but there may be a coffee roaster located in Surf City that Shaver would prefer.
“So, it really supports more of the micro-communities by picking and choosing who you want to be your vendors,” Max Sussman said. “Each of the owners have different backgrounds. Garrett was in the beer business, so his store will be beer-focused.”
The Surf City market will be about half the size of the Veggie Wagon’s Masonboro location, at roughly 1,200 sqaure feet, but still contain the same amount of product.
“My wife and I designed the store and took all our years of experience, what’s worked and what’s not worked, and we were able to draw a smaller store,” Max Sussman said. “I am super excited for this store in Surf City. I think it will do really well.”
With years of trial and error, executing this business model seemed like a no-brainer to the Sussmans.
“We are able to expand our footprint and allow someone else to become an entrepreneur and run their own business,” Max Sussman said. “They’re getting the backing of the Veggie Wagon brand and what we’ve learned, where we’ve failed and fallen and had to pick ourselves back up; they’re getting all that expertise from Day 1.”