Marc Willson, Principal
Marc Willson is the Small Business Strategist working for the Virginia Small Business Development Center (VSBDC) Network and brings 45 years of business experience to bear in helping retail, restaurant, and tourism-related small businesses refine and promote their concepts to the public. In his role working with the VSBDC, Marc conducts lectures from a suite of topic and meets personally with small businesses throughout Virginia as part of the award winning Small Town and Merchant Program, providing confidential one-on-one counseling in partnership with the local SBDC office.
Marc started his retail career in 1975 as co-owner of the largest distributor of Earth Shoes in the United States. As Earth Shoes went the way of the Pet Rock, Marc joined Britches of Georgetowne as a sales person and finished a 12-year career there as Vice President of Operations after growing the company from 9 stores to 109. He then joined Circuit City and opened 83 mall-based Circuit City Express stores. At Crown Books he managed 250 bookstores as Vice President and General Manager. The son of the founder of Circuit City asked him to be President and CEO of the Bicycle Exchange, a chain of bicycle superstores that he had invested in and in dire need of a turnaround.
Marc then took his career into cyberspace as the Vice President of Merchandising of an online college bookstore specializing in textbooks and emblematic apparel. As President of Storetrax, Inc., he managed an Internet site dedicated to landlords and developers leasing retail space. Most recently he traveled to Dallas, Texas, to open the world’s first energy efficiency store for Current Energy, LLC, a company funded by Ross Perot, Jr. The store helps small businesses and residential customers reduce their consumption of gas, water and electricity. He continued to broker commercial power to industry and manufacturers in deregulated states throughout the country.
He is known as an operation’s expert and has counseled countless businesses in best practices, financials and cash flow, marketing and customer service, customer loyalty, merchandising , window dressing, buying, digital media, ecommerce and how to just treat customers with thought, kindness and respect. In an attempt to keep small businesses relevant during this ever changing marketplace, we focus on why their offering is unique, who are their customers and how to reach to them. His clients’ revere his honesty, delivered with the genteel manner of a southern gentleman.
Lester S. Willson, Advisory Board Chairman, Emeritus
Mr. Willson retired in January 2016 concluding 15 years as the Main Street and Sustainability Programs Manager at the Lead Center of the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network at the University of Maryland in College Park. During his tenure he conceived STAMP (Small Town and Merchant Program), and presented it with Marc at nine ASBDC national conferences. Marc continues to evolve STAMP for current conditions and has introduced the program in 32 states and the Virgin Islands.
Casey also served on the OneMaryland Vision Sustainability Policy Advisory Group created by Governor Martin O’Malley as the Small Business Representative and Chaired the Redefining Wealth Work Group. The SBA posted a Podcast and premiered a Dell-sponsored video on www.sba.gov , “Strategies for Growth,” featuring his comments on small business in a changing economy.