Member Stories: Liquid Gold

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It isn’t easy being first. It can mean you have to fight a little harder for what you believe in. That people may call you crazy—among other things—and that you might have a hard time finding people to share your vision. Just ask Bill McArthur and Myrna Burlock, owners of Liquid Gold Tasting Bar and All Things Olive who opened Canada’s first olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting room in all of Canada back in 2010.

“We were here painting and doing all the things you need to get ready to open a store, and we were absolutely terrified,” says Burlock. “Nothing like this had every been done before in Canada.”

“People would stop by and say, ‘you’re opening what? An olive oil tasting room?’”, says McArthur. “Because this kind of thing had never been done before in Canada, people didn’t know what to think.”

And it wasn’t just the public who thought their idea was unconventional—McArthur’s financial institution had similar feelings.

“We had a business plan assembled and we went to my financial institution with it and they turned us down. They said it was untried and they ran from the idea,” recalls McArthur. “But it was completely different at the credit union. Credit unions invest in people as well as things.  And because Myrna already had a relationship with them, they knew her and were willing to do what other banks were unwilling to do.”

“I had a personal history with credit unions—they had been very supportive of me at a time in my life when I needed to build my own credit and needed somebody to take a chance on me personally. So, when I called them for the business, it was the same conversation that I’ve always had with them. I told them what I needed and they said ‘come on in, let’s talk,’” says Burlock.

Now, eight years and three additional stores later, McArthur and Burlock have more than proven that being first can also be very rewarding.

“We don’t have cranky customers. It’s always a pleasant and positive experience when people come through our doors,” says Burlock.

“We take a great deal of pride in being able to be teachers, advocates, guides, promoters, and encouragers of what we do,” says McArthur. “It’s one thing to leave a store with something in a bag, but it’s entirely something else to be able to leave with a head full of knowledge, too. And that’s what we try to do with every customer.”