Husband-and-Wife Team Create Curated Convenience

Their store—Livi’s Market—is a place where they love to shop.

March 18, 2024

Where do you go for gourmet and niche grocery items in a small town? For Livi and Thomas Harlow, it’s their own convenience store. “We didn’t set out to open a convenience store,” said Livi Harlow. “But when we moved from Richmond, Virginia, to Irvington, we wanted access to the food products we could find in Richmond but not in this more rural area.”

When they spotted a vacant Citgo station, the pair partnered with Thomas’s father to create a store they would like to shop in. “The location is right in the heart of town and we figured we could learn the gas side of things while we focused on setting up our own gourmet market with classic candies, lottery, soda, snacks, international grocery products, fine wines, beer and fine jewelry,” Livi said.

Because the building had been unused for two years, they updated the exterior and interior with a butcher block checkout counter and stainless steel racks. “I looked to Instagram for inspiration, and decided on a light blue and navy blue color scheme inside and out to reflect the flow of the nearby Rappahannock River,” she said. “We wanted the store to be warm, clean and inviting.”

The Finer Things

For the Harlows, stocking the store started out as simply bringing in products they enjoyed. For example, Livi’s Market has a selection of finer wines than would be normal in a convenience store. “Thomas and I have always enjoyed wine, so we have a large wine selection with a chilled wine cooler that has real champagne and rose,” Livi said. The store carries organic and natural wines, which the Harlows choose through tastings with wine distributors.

The personal recommendation is one they carry throughout the store. “We’ve tried everything in the shop, whether it’s probiotic soda or wine,” she said. “If we carry it, we’ve sampled it because we don’t want to carry something we’re not proud of. As we tell our customers, we would serve every product to guests in our own home.”

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