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UMKC Innovation Center
By Sarah Mote
August 17, 2015

Entrepreneurship as an Alternative to Retirement

The Olive Ovation

With retirement approaching and a desire to do something different, Marianne Prey, a St. Louis pathologist, was inspired by an olive shop in Chicago. Motivated to open her own store, she attended The Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil class at the University of California-Davis. “I thought it was an informal class,” explains Marianne, “but the faculty formed the California Olive Oil Council and of the 60 students, only two of us were lay people.”

Not knowing anything about owning or running a business, Marianne contacted the U.S. Small Business Administration to get her the contacts and information she needed. The other obstacle was convincing the olive producers she was serious about her business.

“Olive growers are passionate about their product. Because they knew nothing about me, it was difficult to get them to believe in me.” She accomplished this through multiple phone calls and emails. “I conveyed my interest and intent by learning the intricacies of their product and asking detailed questions so I could educate my customers.”

Soon these producers and their families became her support team and suppliers. Within a year, she opened her store, An Olive Ovation, in St. Louis.

“It was scary, but satisfying to see positive reactions when a skeptical customer tastes something really delicious that first time.”

Marianne is grateful to have had the financial resources to provide the initial investment to start her store. “It’s hard work and takes a lot of hours, but I love what I do: being part of the neighborhood, acquiring regular customers, and hearing how happy my store makes others is very satisfying.”

For others on the verge of retirement and not sure what to do, Marianne advises to choose something you really enjoy and just do it. Keep moving past the scary points and know that what you are selling is the best it can be.

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