Kimberly Claridy Walker is the franchise owner of the Arlington Expressway BP gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. The store has been open now for almost a year and the 44-year-old said that even though the road to becoming reportedly the first Black-owned BP gas station owner in Jacksonville hasn’t been easy, she is interested in investing in more.
“It be days where you want to give up, but you have to have that drive that determination because that will continue to open doors,” Walker said.
The serial entrepreneur reflects on becoming a franchisee. Walker says while her business manager was negotiating the deal, the former owners couldn’t seem to stop asking who was purchasing the franchise.
“Then they began to ask were we ‘US citizens?’ She [business manager] said ‘they are US citizens and I’m standing in for my client.’ It made me wonder why they kept asking and then I realized later why,” Walker said.
It wasn’t until after the deal was done that the previous owners finally laid eyes on the new franchisee. Also, it wasn’t until later that Walker realized she had made history as reportedly the first Black owner of a BP gas station in the state.
“They was totally shocked that we are African Americans,” Walker said.
Walker is a serial entrepreneur and has a list of businesses under her belt. The mother of six said funds from her other establishments helped her to make this latest dream of hers a reality.
“I am the owner of the BP gas station on Arlington Expressway along with Walker’s Property Investment, Walker’s Food Mart, and also Serenity Adult Home Care & K&N Lawn and Pressure Washing Services,” Walker said.
She said she has a goal to inspire others to know no matter your circumstances, what you set your mind to is obtainable. Walker said is because she too has faced her share of trial and error.
“A lot of people say that the sky is the limit, but I say the sky isn’t the limit because the sky does not have a limit. So don’t let anyone limit you on anything that you want to do. You gone have ‘Nos’ you keep pressing until you get a yes,” Walker said.
Walker admits that she had some difficulty adjusting to becoming a franchisee and said she would open more.
“Yes, I would now that I’ve gotten the hang of things and you have a manual that you have to follow, I probably would open up a couple more. Anything to offer more employment for my folks,” Walker said.
Walker said in June 2021 she will mark one year with her BP franchise. However, it’s the longer legacy for her family that she’s looking forward to the most.
“It’s Black History Month they can say my grandmother, my grandfather, this is the legacy they left back; it’s rewarding,” Walker said.
She has some words of encouragement for any entrepreneurs looking to build a legacy as well.
“Sometimes you got to be your own cheerleader. Many will not cheer for you but it’s okay. You not doing it for them. You doing it for what you’re building and that’s a legacy,” Walker added.