A hotplate, 2 electric skillets, a home-use 12-cup Mr. Coffee pot and a Foreman grill were all part of the humble beginnings of Le Petit Marche, a neighborhood market turned Atlanta destination.
On the eve of its 9th anniversary, the little market remembers the not-so-distant past of nearly going out of business and shyly welcomes the stream of recognition and accolades. Owner, Marchet Sparks, a Los Angeles transplant, recalls the day when her bank account was a shocking $181. "At this point, I literally lost everything and had to move from home-ownership to renting a room from a friend for nearly 3 years. I settled into a long partnership of depression and alcoholism all while suiting up and showing up for work everyday." After many crucial sacrifices and adjustments, Sparks shifted her focus from mostly retail pantry fare to what was keeping the lights on: her small kitchenette serving tasty lunch sandwiches.
Even while struggling, she held to her dream that the market had great potential and with strong community support and the addition of breakfast, the concept began to stick. "I have an affinity towards Kirkwood and nearby areas for standing by me in the early years. They believed in me and saw the enormous efforts being made by a close-knit family determined to survive."
Sparks is not only surviving but thriving with 2 expansions under her belt and a Westside franchise on the way. "It amazes me to this day how far I've come. Now, nearly 4-years sober, I am proof that adaptability, belief in oneself, support from family and friends, patience and a little faith can turn things around."
With Mom's homemade soups / baked goods and with Pop greeting customers with a sweet genuine smile, a dining experience at Le Petit Marche is like snuggling up with your favorite blanket. It's familiar, it's cozy, it's home.
Q & A With Marchet
1. Can you tell us a little bit more about your relationship with your amazing parents? Did you get inspiration to open Marche from your Mom's homemade recipes?
My parents are my main source of inspiration. Happily married for nearly 50 years, they taught me how to stay the course, to be flexible. Since my earthly beginning, they have always been supportive of my endeavors no matter how wild or crazy! They taught me the art of compromise and above all else, to keep the faith. My grandmother was completely illiterate and could not read or write but she carved out a living as a cook and passed that knowledge down to my mom an ultimately to me. I credit these wonderful people for shaping my life; a direct reflection of Le Petit Marche.
2. What is your one piece of advice to someone who is a small business owner or aspires to open a small business?
The best advice I can give to someone starting a small business is to be willing to learn and not assume to know everything. Be discerning all while letting others help you. Be open to advice. Pay attention to what works and build on that! It may take you in a different direction than you anticipated but the ultimate goal is to have a successful business and to have a balanced, happy life, right?!?
3. Lastly, do you have any more information on the westside franchise? Potential location and opening date?
A Westside franchise is in the making off Northside drive near the new stadium. We are hoping to be open in a year. Stay tuned!