Thursday, September 12, 2013
The health benefits of olive oil are no secret to most, but the experience of choosing your own flavor, coupled with sampling balsamic vinegars is unmatched when compared to the Lowcountry’s newest store called The Crescent Olive.
This new specialty store carries over 60 oils and vinegars from which customers may choose.
Charlotte and Mike Easler were looking to own their own business and work for themselves. Their love of cooking and entertaining was evident amongst their friends, and when a friend suggested the concept of a specialty store where patrons could taste varieties at will and then choose to purchase their favorites, they were sold.
This unusual niche is not found commonly, but the concept is growing across the country.
The couple first opened a store in Greenville three years ago, then in Columbia. The opening of the Mount Pleasant store provided the opportunity for the couple to get back to the Lowcountry area.
Located in The Shoppes at Seaside Farms, The Crescent Olive is located in a bright, airy space up-fitted to meet their needs.
High quality olive oils and vinegars can be found in high-end shops, but not at the volume found at The Crescent Olive. What sets The Crescent Olive apart is the freshness of the product and Mike and Charlotte’s commitment to selling only ultra-premium quality oil.
Mike explained that the oil is pressed within six hours of harvest and products are offered based only on the growing season Every six months the oils are switched out, he said.
During the first half of the year, The Crescent Olive carries Northern Hemisphere oils from countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Tunisia and the U.S. (California). During the second half of the year, customers can enjoy Southern Hemisphere oils from countries such as Peru, Chile, South Africa and Australia.
“This ensures fresh high quality oils that have better health benefits and taste,” he said.
And aside from the quality of the product, it is the overall experience that sells a potential client.
“People come in, and I watch them when they taste a brownie made with blood orange olive oil. Most have never tasted anything like that and at that moment they’re sold,” she said. “It is nothing extravagant – it’s just brownie mix from a box. But, the flavored olive oil changes the whole dimension of the taste.”
Another specialty customers can sample is the ice cream with balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is not just for salads, you’ll learn.
“A customer will take that first bite and their eyes light up and open wide and they don’t even know they’re doing it.” For example, a fruit-flavored or chocolate vinegar over vanilla ice cream can be mouth-watering.
Charlotte is big on the health benefits of the oils, constantly talking about that to consumers. “The flavors will sell themselves, but teaching them how good these are for their body and how important it is in their diet is the fun part,” she said.
She said it is especially fun to take something as simple as salad dressing and show them the favorites and most can not believe how they taste once married together or how easily it happens. “It is simple to learn without being a gourmet chef,” she said.
“Your food can taste fantastic and olive oils and vinegars are something you can and should use in everyday life,” she added.
From Garlic to Wild Mushroom and Sage to Persian Lime, the flavored oils run the gamut.
Once a customer has picked a few favorites from several of the 60 fustis which contain the oils and vinegars, Charlotte or Mike fills one of three bottle sizes (200, 375 or 750 milliliters) with the oil or vinegar. Prices range from $10.95 to $30.50 for common flavors and $18.95 to $38.95 for gourmet flavors. Oils should be used within nine to 12 months, no matter the bottle size.
The Crescent Olive does customized gift baskets and will have a variety of pre-packaged baskets for sale during the holidays. Couple oils and vinegars with handmade pottery by Jennifer Futrell or pair them with other items for a nice gift. You can choose from pasta, grits and breads as well. Bread is brought in from Saffron’s. In addition, Cal Harrelson’s “Calmetto’s” art work is featured in the stores statewide.
The Crescent Olive also offers private tastings for 10 or more people, which are great for a night out, book clubs and fundraisers.
The Crescent Olive will also be on the road at various functions and events around town including the upcoming Charleston She Show. Mike and Charlotte are also teaming up with Charleston Cooks to use their oils in their classes and host classes right in their new store.
For more information, visit www.thecrescentolive.com or call 388-0975. The store is located at 1952 Long Grove Drive, Suite 1. You’ll find recipes there to help “tweak the diet and keep the flavor.”
Bottles are dishwasher safe and may be refilled for $1 off the purchase price.