Food & Drink: Beyond Expectations

Brothers behind Sausalito’s Driver’s Market get more than they dreamed of

by Tanya Henry

It’s obvious from the “Good mornings,” smiles and nods that Adam and Graham Driver receive from customers walking into their natural and organic grocery store at 200 Caledonia Street that folks are pleased that they are there.

After just two years, 35-year-old Adam and his younger brother (by one year) have doubled sales and staff at their Sausalito-based Driver’s Market. “Everything about the store is bigger than we thought it would be,” says Adam, who seems a bit awestruck that the small neighborhood staple—which won the 2014 Business of the Year award from the Sausalito Chamber of Commerce—has become exactly what they hoped it would be and more.

Neither brother had imagined that their days would be filled with sourcing products from local purveyors and restocking 100 percent organic produce and bulk food sections. After studying theater, Adam moved to Los Angeles from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and landed acting gigs wherever he could find them. By 2005 he was burnt out and moved to Sausalito, taking a job at the Real Food Company (where Driver’s is today) and began working as a produce-buyer for $12 an hour.

Soon he was co-managing the store, but frustrated that he was unable to implement changes, as the owners were off-site and not invested in making improvements. Before quitting in 2010, Adam began taking business classes at the College of Marin and working on a business plan for his own market.

During a pickup basketball game, he serendipitously met Paul Geffner, a longtime Sausalito resident and entrepreneur who had opened Escape from New York Pizza in the mid-’80s in San Francisco. The two men became friends, and in 2011 they, along with family members, opened Driver’s Market in the 100-year-old building that had housed grocery stores since the mid-’70s.

In the meantime, Graham had left Ann Arbor after completing degrees in photography and psychology and was living with their older brother in Ashland, Oregon. It didn’t take much convincing to get both brothers to Sausalito to help Adam and Paul embark on building a new kind of market. “We had to completely gut the place and get all new electrical and plumbing,” says Adam, who adds that it threw his business plan off by about 100 percent. But he also notes that they have already surpassed their 50-year projections.

“Our number one goal is to push the industry forward,” Graham says. “If we can have a store that doesn’t source from ‘big food,’ we will.”

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