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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Do What You Love

Joan and Bill Keller started trekking some of the world's most remote places in the early 70s. They are explorers and adventurers who have tales to tell about places most people have never heard of before they become customers of Joan and Bill's shop, Le Travel Store.     More...

Key Question:


Do what you love or what fascinates you.  When Bill and Joan talk about travel their eyes sparkle. Their faces are full of smiles.

How does Bill's and Joan's love of travel translate into success in business?

They make money because there are many people who love to travel. If they started a business around their love of frogs, we're not sure they could turn that love into cash.

The mistake you can make in the startup phase is to assume that there are enough people like yourself to build a business around what you love or like. If you go to business school, you would learn that what you love or like is insignificant when you are trying to figure out what kind of business you want to launch. An MBA would convince you that you need market research to determine what products and services people might want to buy from you.

Like so many owners we know, Bill and Joan had an unscientific hunch that they could make a living by serving people like them. They never wanted to go on a tour bus or follow the crowd. They wanted to buy books and maps and chart their own course. They were right. They have made money and made it over the long haul by staying true to their love of both being and serving the independent international traveler.

As Tina Turner sings, "What's love got to do with it?"

Love is what gets Bill and Joan excited every day. It's what helps them get through the thick and the thin. They have been working on this business since 1975 and they still have fun going into the store.

Think about it

If you are stuck, are you working on the wrong business? What can you do to fall back in love or more in love with your business?

Clip from: Le Travel Store in the Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego:  Joan and Bill Keller, founders of Le Travel Store,  have traveled so much,  you ask, "Where haven't you been?"  One answer was "The Antarctica." But, they got close -- Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego - Patagonia down on the tip of Argentina, the most southern city on earth and on a clear day ... of course, Joan and Bill Keller have the Antarctica on their list, but compared to most people, their list is rather short.

Become an independent traveler, but do it with panache. Take some of your customers, your investors, CPA and banker, and of course, your family with you. Source the world. 

Also, this team is well-grounded in their community. They lead the "return to authenticity" movement that champions Main Street. The National Trust for Historic Preservation led us to them and this historic Gaslamp Quarter!

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Le Travel Store (BK)

Bill Keller, Founder

745 Fourth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Visit our web site:

Office: 6195440005

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1975

Do What You Love

HATTIE: (In the Studio) Hi. I'm Hattie Bryant, and welcome to SMALL BUSINESS SCHOOL goes to Main Street. Several of the programs this season will come to you from rejuvenated historic business districts.

(Voiceover) Since 1980 the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Programs have generated over $5 billion in physical improvements, nearly 27,000 net new businesses, and more than 100,000 net new jobs. Much of the work to revitalize business districts is being done by small business owners.

Bill and Joan Keller left an upscale mall to buy this building in San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter. They'll tell you why and how they made the big change. Also, you'll hear from our viewers and direct marketer Parvin Salehi.

Every week on SMALL BUSINESS SCHOOL, we take you into our Master Class. This is not a class like you take in school, this is a real-life classroom, where small-business owners explain how they do what they do. Step into the small business master class, with Bill and Joan Keller.

BILL KELLER (Co-owner, Le Travel Store): (Voiceover) Like so many people of my age, you know, I'd started traveling with the family in the Ford station wagon, cross country, staying in travel lodges, camping, you know, cutting my travel teeth as a kid with my parents.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Joan and Bill Keller love to travel.

JOAN KELLER (Co-owner, Le Travel Store): I adore it. I love it.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) And they're sharing that love with their customers. They've been sending them around the world for over 20 years. Bill and Joan own Le Travel Store. Under your shirt?

JOAN: Under your clothing.

HATTIE: All right.

JOAN: When I met Bill, he was at Grossmont College and he had--he was working out of a briefcase selling charter flights. He was in college, and I was at the same school when we met.

BILL: Well, there weren't a lot of direct opportunities that I could see in pursuing, you know, my Chinese studies major that I was finishing up with. But while I was at the University of California at San Diego, I had run a travel office on campus, sending people to Europe.

JOAN: Well, he drew me into the business days after we met when he had me sitting on the lawn stamping his name and address on brochures for him to hand out.

HATTIE: Oh, he recruited you immediately.

JOAN: Right away. He sucked me in. Well, I'll tell you the first thing Bill said to me when we met. We had established that we both had traveled in Europe and we loved the experience. And Bill said, `Do you want to go to South America?' And I said, `Well, sure.' You know, what else is the answer to a question like that? We set off, our very first trip together--this was before we were married--south from San Diego, taking buses and trains, and hitchhiking through Mexico. And it was a great adventure and a wonderful trip. In fact, we broke up on the road, and about a week later, I checked into a hotel in Merida, in the Yucatan Peninsula, and checking into the same hotel at the same time was Bill.

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