Making it in Big Sky: Roxy’s Market
By Doug Hare EBS STAFF WRITER
During summers as a teenager in Telluride, Colorado, Josh Treasure worked alongside his father Kurt at a store called the Market that was partially-owned by Mike and Roxy Lawler. A Utah native, Treasure returned to his home state to study finance in college and after graduation, he went to work flipping homes with his father, who was partially retired and considering full retirement.
Treasure also began running an in-home personal training business after passing the NASM certification. At the time, Mike and Roxy had begun building a store in Big Sky and reached out to Josh and his dad for help. The Treasures quickly fell for the Montana ski town, and with Utah becoming overdeveloped with over 3 million people through the Wasatch front, decided to make Big Sky home.
When Roxy’s Market first opened, Kurt was the general manager, his mother helped in the deli and meat department, and he managed the produce department combining his passion for business, fitness and nutrition. In the fall of 2017 when his dad retired to focus on his health and overall well-being, Josh took the reins as manager. Currently, Roxy’s employs 20 year-round full-time employees, 19 part-time year-round employees and hires an additional 15-20 seasonal employees during busier times.
Explore Big Sky: What has been the key to your success?
Josh Treasure: Mike and Roxy Lawler have been more than mentors to not only myself but the staff members. We are a Roxy’s family; we work together and stick together. When we opened we worked side by side, taking the garbage out, sweeping the floors and still continue to talk multiple times a day exploring different avenues to improve our business. Mike and Roxy strongly believe in taking care of their staff and family.
My father was in the grocery industry for over 40 years. He taught me how to butcher and manage a meat department in Telluride, manage a produce department in Big Sky and eventually taught me the grocery department before retiring. Mike Lawler is a mastermind of business and finances and teaches me new skills everyday. Roxy is amazing at product selection and dealing with people to create relationships with businesses and communities. She also teaches me new skills everyday. I have had wise and seasoned mentors guide me to get where I am.
EBS: Do you remember your first customer?
J.T.: Yes, the first customer that sticks out when we first opened was Paul Cronin. He was an older man dressed in overalls full of punchline jokes and stories of Big Sky. He invited Caitlin and I over for dinner one evening which kindled a great relationship.
EBS: What are the biggest obstacles to operating a grocery store in Big Sky?
J.T.: Housing is an issue in all of Big Sky which also has an impact on us. Our biggest obstacle is shoulder season, but not due to lack of business. It is due to the general demographic change in summer and winter causing us to reevaluate product selection and do store resets. Fresh produce in the winter is an issue due to the cold temperatures. We see product come in frozen at times and have to send it to YES COMPOST to be broken down into fertilizer. Lastly, keeping costs affordable for the customer. We are working hard to find a solution but have high operating costs and are seeing an increase in our cost from distributors nationwide.
EBS: How has the business landscape changed since you started out?
J.T.: More businesses and more people. It’s very exciting to see more businesses creating more options for visitors. It seems we have been discovered and more people from all over the world are visiting Big Sky allowing for great conversations with customers.
EBS: How well are you able to predict the ebb and flow of seasonal traffic in a Big Sky?
J.T.: I don’t have a crystal ball but I do yearly predictions and was nearly on point for all our goals and predictions in 2018. At the rate we are going my predictions will be correct for 2019 as well.
EBS: What is one of the most memorable moments you have had as a resident/business owner in Big Sky?
J.T.: [As a resident,]Tuesday night bike rides. This is where I met most of the current friends I have when I moved here six years ago including Phil Hess, Mason Young (aka: salty-long time locals will get this), Darrel from GAS, Matt Jennings and that group of guys.[As a business proprietor,] I have had numerous parents approach me and thank me for giving their sons or daughters an opportunity to work at Roxy’s Market. Not only do we employ them but we as managers try to give them steps they can use to later be successful in life. As mentioned previously, I was mentored and I take great pride in mentoring others to see them succeed. Great teams make great businesses.
EBS: What was a business idea that didn’t work?
J.T.: We decided to put a bulk mochi ice cream freezer near our registers. The product was great but we already sold it in retail packs, and we found out customers preferred this. Customers who used the bulk section seemed to always drop some, leaving it on the floor causing a mess near the registers.
EBS: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
J.T.: “Sleep on it” meaning that if you are ever upset, frustrated or dwelling on something that isn’t in your control at 11 p.m. just get a good night’s rest and reevaluate the situation in the morning.
EBS: What advice would you give to small business owners just starting out in Big Sky?
J.T.: First off, never forget that the customer always comes first—they are paying your bills. Have capital on hand, make sure you are getting into a space you can currently afford for at least three years. Run slim on labor to find out who your true ‘troopers’ are while getting an idea of what revenue your business will have and not sacrificing good customer service. Never evaluate your numbers until after the first year and when you evaluate be extremely detailed and realistic for future predictions to make adjustments as needed.
EBS: Where do you see your business in 10 years?
J.T.: As an entire business, we will continue to grow. Mike and Roxy Lawler always say they are ready to settle down and retire but it is in their blood. As a Big Sky business, I want to capture the entire local and tourist audience, be a leader in sustainable and environmental practices (becoming plastic free which is an option we are finding is feasible within ten years), and be heavily involved with community events.
Regarding the store, I personally would love to see a second story added with a deli and seating/lounge area for customers. We will likely have our same management team and continue to improve every aspect of our business as we do every year.