Taking a Dream and Making it a Reality

By Cassondra Temmer 

When thinking of opening your own business, you don’t think of all the small details that go into it, such as coming up with the idea, the name, the location, all the things that you take for granted when you get food from your local restaurant, diner, or deli. You don’t think about all the time and effort that goes in to find the best location for the business to successfully take off.

Bob Wall and his wife Meg Zabel took on this challenge of opening their own business despite any hardships they may face along the way. Together they created their business Green Gecko located on 10 E. College Ave in the City Center Plaza, downtown Appleton. They chose this place because downtown was the necessary area and there was a lack of grocery stores in this area. Thus began Green Gecko, a quaint deli in the City Center.

The name Green Gecko comes from twenty-five years ago when Bob and his wife were in Thailand. There were geckos running around all over the place, and then they told each other that if they ever opened their own business that they would call it “Green Gecko.”

Bob says he loves this place because it gives a good central location for all the workers in the City Center Plaza to the Green Gecko for lunch.

Bob and Meg started their business on less than $25,000 and all on their own, with no help from anyone else. They opened September 2010 and were profitable shortly after that. Some struggles they faced were getting money together for opening choosing specific things to spend their money on. They didn’t spend too much on advertising so that made it harder for them getting the word out about their opening.

The location is perfect for a new business because of all the different things that happen downtown, such as the farmers market on Saturday mornings in the summer, which attract people from all over. There are hundreds of workers in that building, which gives them a large base of loyal customers daily.

Green Gecko currently has six employees; Bob and Meg used to hire people that they knew really well, but slowly that is changing. He plans to develop a larger store in the downtown area in the near future.

The Green Gecko has many things to offer people who want to stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Monday-Friday they are open from 7 AM-7 PM, then Saturday they’re open 8 AM-2 PM and on Sunday they are closed. At Green Gecko they have everything made from scratch such as salad items, a huge selection of cheese, imported Italian meats and sliced deli items. They also have wine or beer for anyone who would like to have a drink while enjoying their meal. They have soups to sandwiches, salads to pizzas and even tapas. Green Gecko gets their meat from local farms that have grass fed animals.

It was helpful that Bob at one time managed the downtown farmers markets and has a longstanding relationship with the venders. Bob says that the best part about owning his own business is that you don’t have to answer to a boss; you are your own boss. He also likes being able to make decisions on what to do with his business, not asking for opinions of others or having to ask if his decision is good enough. Bob said when you are running your own business you almost need to be the renaissance guy, meaning you need to know how to run every little thing your business needs to stay afloat. He said hard work is one of the number one things that you need in order to run your own business.

When asked ‘What advice would you give to new business owners?’ he came back with something very insightful. He said, “Don’t go into a business you don’t know a lot about; its hard to run a new business and learn a new profession at the same time.”

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” Colin Powell stated this and Bob and Meg have led their business to success from all the time and effort they put into their business. They knew that they needed to put in ample amounts of time and effort to get their business afloat and they took every little thing along the way and made it into something to help them strive and succeed.

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