Information you need to live a happy, worry-free retirement!
Originally published March 29, 2013, last updated February 20, 2014
Mark Leichtle, 61, recently switched gears – in a big way. He and his wife Jan recently opened up Old World Oil and Vinegar in Omaha. Read this Q&A about the longtime law firm administrator turned olive oil aficionado.
Q. Before working with olive oil and vinegar, what did you do?
For the longest time I was the firm administrator at a local law firm, kind of the business manager if you will of a law firm. I worked there for 16 years.
Q. Why did you want to reinvent yourself?
I had managed to make pretty good money doing that so I was able to fund the business without having to go and borrow money to do it. My wife and I decided that we could put a given sum of money at risk to start a business. Thought it would be fun to do something like that. We looked around for different opportunities and this one presented itself in part by coincidences with our family. My daughter lives in Minneapolis and took us to one of these stores and my brother in law works overseas and had been to Modena, Italy where most of the balsamic vinegars are produced and we got some samples of those. It really piqued our interest in the whole set of products that would be available if we did an oil and vinegar store.
We looked into how involved it would be to set and decided that was manageable for us. From a retail standpoint, we have a product that has a shelf life of about a year without any special care so its relatively stable, still tasty and isn’t overly heavy. It just seems like something that was manageable and yet unique to the area and kind of fun.
Q. What was the reaction from family and friends?
Our family was really supportive. A lot of people I know in business thought I was crazy because they had never been to stores like that and told me what the common misconception is – ‘That’s a salad dressing store – how can you possibly make enough money to pay the rent with a salad dressing store?’ And, of course it isn’t that. So I think that they have kind of come around. They were surprised by the depth of the product line that was out there and the flavors of the vinegars and oils. Honestly I think a lot of them had never realized that there were as many choices and that there is actually a variety.
Q. What products do you offer?
9 Unflavored olive oils
9 Flavored olive oils with things like garlic, basil, Italian herbs, etc.
22 balsamic and non-balsamic vinegars
7 different kinds of sea salts
8 different kinds of dried mushrooms
Q. Best part of owning own business?
The best part is we really are free to do it the way we want to do it. We know what our hours have to be, we set our own rules.
Q. Do you have any advice for other baby boomers who want to reinvent themselves?
I think the biggest part of it is you have to decide how much money you can afford to lose and not replace. What is the point where it is too much and you’ll be mad at yourself forever for squandering what you set aside?
Visit www.OldWorldOil.com to learn more about the products offered.
Mark was also featured in the "60 Plus in Omaha" March/April magazine. Look for it on stands locally!