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Key Idea: Act on Your Dreams

Darby has an MBA and worked on Wall Street but he's much happier shopping the world and bringing it back to his store in Santa Fe. More...

Key Question:


Do what makes you happy and the thing that feeds your soul.  Darby was working in a coat-and-tie in a job that was highly government regulated . After two years, he bought a motorcycle, a pair of boots and left Wall Street in search of a lifestyle he could love. Born and reared in West Virginia with a father who worked as the CEO of an energy company, as a child he sold worms from the side of the road to make spending money.

  Why is Darby so happy as a merchant in Santa Fe?

A:   Lifestyle is more important to Darby than money and prestige. Had he stayed on Wall Street, with his education and hard work he could be at the top of a well-known organization making millions in bonuses. Darby remembered how much fun he had selling worms from the side of a country road in West Virginia. Also, as a kid he was always hitchhiking somewhere because he was looking for a new adventure.

Since we first visited Darby, there is new growth to report. Today there are still about 60 employees but sales are up from $8 million to $10 million a year. You saw in this program Jackalope was finally able -- after being a one-location store since 1976 -- to add it's second. As is often the case, once you break out of a habit, you can form new ones. Now you can find "Everything Under the Sun" in five Jackalope stores. There are two locations in Albuquerque today, one in Denver and one in North Hollywood in addition to the anchor store in Santa Fe. The North Hollywood location is totally unique in that Darby's partners there are three of his brothers and a nephew who run the day-to-day operation.

Darby is excited. Pat Black, the buyer you met, is now in charge of buying. She is searching the world and she's not afraid to go into the back country of China looking for antique furniture. As trends shift away from terra cotta toward glazed pottery, Pat is bringing in more goods from Vietnam and India.

Darby also reports he is now a member of The Executive Committee, which most refer to as TEC. The group has members in major cities in the US. and is made up of owners or CEOs who meet together for a full day and have a two-hour personal consult with the group facilitator once a month. There are no competitors in the group and no selling to each other is allowed. Everything shared among members is confidential. So there is no selling and lots of sharing. Many benefit from groups like TEC which bring owners together who can serve as a board of advisers to each other. Members learn from guest speakers, from each other and they hold each other accountable for achieving goals.

Darby's next idea is to expand through partnerships and his model is the bread retailer, Great Harvest. New locations will be funded and owned by people who want to be part of Jackalope but they will be given a great deal of creative license. Darby will help select a location, supply the operations expertise and the merchandise while the new owners will supply the sales and marketing. I've heard it says that there's no such thing as a small business, just like there's no such thing as a small dream.

Think about it

Are you doing now what you have dreamed about doing?  What changes would you have to make to start working on your real dreams?

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

Act on Your Dreams


HATTIE: (back in the studio) Many small-business owners you've met on this show are doing what they're doing because they love the stuff of their business. Thomas Keller loves to cook. Darby McQuade loves to travel around the world and bring back beautiful art and folk art to his store. Mike Neary loves to build log homes; he loves the wilderness and loves logs. When any of us do what we love to do, we usually grow -- personal growth -- and our business grows.

Like people, businesses are organic, complex and often chaotic systems. Problems are a natural part of the picture. And the people part is usually the most complex and the most problematic. Darby knows well. With some guidance from a consultant, Darby was able to let some people go and to get to the next level, he realized he had to change his own thinking. Darby had always thought that Jackalope would be one location and he couldn't visualize expansion. To get himself out of a rut, he decided to hire people with big chain experience.

People like Cheryl, Bruce and others, came to Jackalope with multi-store experience. With these people on his team, things began to fall into place. The Albuquerque store opened and he stood back and watched employees do it all on their own. So his advice is, `When you begin to let go, you begin to grow.'

DARBY: I've given them permission to take over my job.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) The entire team at Jackalope is caught up in the vision of growth. They love what they are doing. They are having fun, they are creating places for people, not just to shop, but to have a life-enriching experience. I hope you're lucky enough to visit Santa Fe and see Jackalope yourself.

HATTIE: What is the legend of the jackalope?

DARBY: Oh, the legend of the jackalope, well, it's a cross between a jack rabbit and a deer or an antelope. And they also show up related to, like, fur-bearing trout and, well, other animals like that, and like large green beans that--where one green bean fits on a whole railroad car, or one tomato ...

HATTIE: (Voiceover) I've heard it said there's no such thing as a small business, just like there's no such thing as a small dream. Thanks, Darby, for dreaming good, big dreams.

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