In the midst of Short Pump’s bustling sprawl, a farmers-market-style grocery store seeking greater visibility just became impossible not to find. All it took was changing the name of a street.
“It wasn’t the only way,” says Tom Leonard, the owner of Tom Leonard’s Farmer’s Market, “just the one that made the most sense.”
He says the solution hadn’t occurred to him until a friend suggested it a few years ago. By then, Leonard had spent nearly a decade struggling with the county to get signs on Broad Street to draw attention to a small cluster of stores on Brookriver Drive, just off the main drag.
Getting the endorsement for the street-name change from the neighboring hotel and custom car shop proved less difficult than persuading authorities. The process took nearly three years, and needed approval from Henrico County and the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The sign and VDOT installation cost Leonard $5,500, he says — not including the cost of engineering studies and lawyers.
“It’s great for the store,” he says. “That’s all I really care about.”
Now up for a little more than a week, Leonard says he still gets a kick turning onto Tom Leonard Drive. But he says his ego remains in check. His father is Stew Leonard, founder of a grocery chain in New York and Connecticut that holds a Guinness World Record in food sales.
“My dad has a highway exit named after him on the New York State Thruway,” Leonard says. “I’m small potatoes compared to him.”