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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Hire Big Business Experience

Before Darby hired some leaders from big business he was stuck in one location.

Key Question:


If you don't have big business experience and you want to grow, you should consider hiring people who have worked in big companies,

Most small business owners are like Darby, they have great difficulty duplicating themselves. Darby has always known that to expand, he needs employees. However, you heard him say in the beginning, he hired people then did not hold them accountable. Darby had to hire a consultant to clean up the messes he had made with his laissez faire leadership style. Darby had to fire people who had cheated the company; he had to put systems and processes in place to measure performance; and he had to hire some new managers.

  Is it always best to have clearly defined job descriptions with expectations put in writing?

A: Yes. Every employee performs best when they know what you the owner expects of them. The relationship can not be too informal at the beginning. In fact, a perfect mix is a formal, written job description/working contract including details about compensation, benefits, corporate culture expectations, etc. and a warm informal personal relationship. Darby started out hiring his friends then they all just hung around. This did not work for anyone.

Q: Could Darby open a second store without Cheryl and Bruce?

A:  Probably not. For 18 years he had worked to build Jackalope into what we see today and it is a "Darby-centric" place. Darby had never worked in a retail chain, never had formal retail training, didn't think about the power of duplication, and was too busy just handling the one location. Both Cheryl and Bruce had big chain experience and they knew that certain characteristics of the Santa Fe Jackalope store can be duplicated. The Albuquerque store does feel different from the Santa Fe store, however, you know when you go it that it is part of the Jackalope family.

To grow, a small business owner must find people who have talents and skills and the owner must give the employees the freedom to act on ideas.

Think about it

Where could you go to find big business experience?  Do you have suppliers who are large that might have leadership you could win over?

Clip from: Jackalope, where myth and poetry meet reality

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Take a little bit of mystery, add fantasy, mix one part entertainment with demonstrations of the arts in progress, then add great food, decorative arts for the home, a little zoo on the side, and space to wander and fantasize about the meaning and value of life ...and you have come to Jackalope. It is a new kind of retail. Part bazaar, a little bizarre, yet always business as art. You have to experience it to believe it and there is no better place than Santa Fe.

Come meet this soft-spoken gentleman, a free spirit who dreams dreams. Meet Darby McQuade.

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Darby McQuade, Founder

2820 Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
505 471 8539

Visit our web site:

Office: 505 471 8539

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1976

Hire Big Business Experience

HATTIE: (Voiceover) As the business grew, Darby hit some rough spots -- taxes, too easy on people.

DARBY: For many years, I didn't hold people accountable.

HATTIE: Because you wanted to be too nice.

DARBY: I was a nice guy, and plus, I wanted to be off buying and not dealing with personnel problems. And I had a business consultant come in, and just really put things in focus.

For a period, as things developed, there were people who were playing hard, and people that were maybe not playing hard, and not wanting to really be involved (or at least at the level that we were working on). I let some people go.

HATTIE: How'd you do that? (an eternal quietness)

You don't remember what you said?

DARBY: I don't remember. No. It was always very difficult -- well, still is.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Darby has attracted three strong leaders who I believe will successfully take the Jackalope concept to many more locations. They have already demonstrated their ability with the opening of Jackalope's second location near Albuquerque.

We feel that this is a very different kind of place.

Can you put your finger on it? What is different about Jackalope from other retail operations?

PAT BLACK: I worked for many other companies over the years, and what I love so much about this is that it constantly is changing, new things coming in all the time, it's not the same all the time. It's exciting. And every time people come in, they love it 'cause we have new things for them.

HATTIE: Does that have something to do with Darby's sort of passion for a new place, trying to find a new thing?

PAT: Yes, because it keeps it interesting here.

CHERYL: And you have to be able to do everything, and a large company, you're usually pinholed into a certain position and growth is very narrow. It's kind of like being--and I use this analogy--but it's kind of like being a round peg trying to fit into a square hole. And when I came to Jackalope, it was like I found the circle that I fit into.

HATTIE: So how did you get here?

CHERYL: Basically, quit my job in LA and gave up, you know, a very big office and a a window and big bucks. And put the family in the car and drove to Santa Fe. And...

HATTIE: You didn't have a job? You...

CHERYL: I did not have a job.

BRUCE: I saw a billboard on I-25 in, like, the early '80s or late '80s, and I thought, `That was an interesting billboard.' And it had a truck full of junk in it, and it said, `Folk art by the truckload.' And I said, `I'm gonna have to go there someday.' And I started coming here and observing what was going on. And then I saw so man...

HATTIE: So you were a customer?

BRUCE: I was a customer. Yeah, you bet. It's a fun place. And I had reached the stage in my career where, if it wasn't fun, I didn't want to do it, OK?

HATTIE: Right, right, right, right.

BRUCE: And I know Darby feels the same way, if it's not fun, we don't want to do it.

HATTIE: All right. Cheryl also came from multi--from an organization, multiple stores. You came from an organization with multiple stores. You came, there's just one here.

The two of you, I think, are influencing Darby because, before you came, he couldn't envision multiplying yourselves. Do you really believe you can multiply this concept?

BRUCE: To a degree. We don't want to multiply it in the terms of--you would multiply big-box retailing. What we want to do is find the right sites, in the right area, where we feel we can continue the creative atmosphere of shopping, the fun experience, the unique merchandise, and find the people that are interested in doing that 'cause the whole thing depends on merchandise and people.

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