The following article was run in the August 13, 1999 edition of the Ojai Valley News. It is reprinted here with their permission. The photo in the article was taken by its author.
Valley Market Owner Can Do Anything
When Tony Leckie, owner of the Valley Market in Meiners Oaks, emerged unscathed from a walk across the bed of hot coals during an event conducted by the popular Anthony Robbins, he felt he could do anything.
And that “anything” included giving the people of the Ojai Valley a well-run, independent grocery store.
To do that, Leckie knew he needed a highly motivated team, not just a group of employees putting in time. Therefore, instead of offering just an hourly wage with a few benefits, he made it possible for his workers to share ownership of the business through stock options, and to financially benefit when sales goals were met.
In addition to those motivational factors, and Anthony Robbins-inspired “power hour” for all workers, including Leckie, is held at 3 p.m. every day to get “pumped up” for the peak business hours from 3 to 6 p.m.
During this brief, but energetic, time frame, employees go up front, stand in a line, massage each others shoulders for 30 seconds and “power clap” before going back to work.
Leckie’s team consists of Hal Moore, co-owner and right-hand man; Aaron Johnson, meat manager and owner of Q-Time BBQ Co., which is run within the store; Laura Leckie; and Carlos Martinez, all Ojai Valley natives who graduated from Nordhoff High School.
Their effectiveness is immediately apparent upon entering the market, which has a clean, wholesome atmosphere, as well as friendly service and a wide selection of beautifully displayed merchandise.
An electric train running around the sales area adds a touch of humor and fun.
“Shopping is a tedious task no one likes to do, so we’re trying to make it as much fun as we can while sticking to being a good grocery store,” Leckie said.
Before becoming owner of Valley Market, Leckie accumulated 17 years of food retailing experience as an employee of Dahl’s Market in Oak View and then the Locker Market in Ojai. During those years he developed his business philosophy both through his own experiences, as well as by reading all he could and then putting what he learned to good use.
Presently, Leckie teaches karate and kamikaze kick boxing at Meiners Oaks Elementary School and conducts workouts at a location adjacent to Don’s Gym.
Leckie believes in all type of independent stores, and said, “They all work to make the community around us a better place to live.”
Consequently, he urges the citizens of the valley to shop at the local independents rather than the chain stores who, he said, do not offer lower prices and greater selection, in spite of their advertising.
To prove the point, he welcomes selection and price comparisons and furnishes information on Valley Market specials by telephone at 640-SAVE (7283).
None of the profits of the Valley Market team leave the valley. The market sells scrip to the Meiners Oaks and Mira Monte Elementary Schools; donated ingredients for Lions Club pancake breakfasts; conducted a hot dog and bake sale for Meiners Oaks Elementary School; and has plans for a carnival in the parking lot involving as many community organizations as possible.