Bozeman, MT-based Olivelle started out like any other independent store. Founded by Brie Thompson, the specialty retail outlet boasted olive oils, vinegars and fine foods that were developed by Thompson and her mother, as well as an interactive experience for customers.
However, the duo soon noticed that there was a demand in the gourmet housewares industry to not only add an extensive olive oil and vinegar refill service to their shops, but that there was also a need to teach retailers about how to run the program, merchandise the products and market the goods and services.
Now, the store has taken its Olivelle brand above and beyond. It has found a home amongst independent gourmet housewares retailers throughout the U.S., and also opened its first international partner store in Norway.
GOURMET INSIDER® recently caught up with Thompson about what the brand’s roots, what retailers can expect when inquiring about becoming a partner and new flavors on the horizon.
GI: What sparked the idea for Olivelle?
BT: My family grew up cooking and gardening together. We loved and cherished everything food! After a family friend got cancer my Mom started learning more about good fats and bad fats and how they affect the body. We quickly became obsessed with olive oil, especially after we learned how much good olive oil could improve the taste of food. In 2006, My mom, Michelle, and I decided to share our love of food. We developed and designed our oil and vinegar on-tap retail shop in a way that teaches customers about olive oil and vinegar then lets them choose a size and fill bottles fresh from the tap.
GI: What were some of the original flavors?
BT: Our first and still most popular product we created is our Caramelized Garlic Olive Oil. It is delicious for drizzling over veggies or chicken before roasting, adding to your pan when scrambling eggs or tossing with pasta.
When we started, we had no intention of becoming manufacturers. We were disappointed at the quality of infused olive oils available in the market. It felt like others were trying to cover bad oil with flavor and that was not acceptable in our business model and moral values. If we are going to ask a premium price, we needed to offer a premium product, no compromise.
GI: How do you come up with new flavors to add to the mix?
BT: Just like a chef creates specials for their menu, we develop new ideas and start experimenting. We are deeply passionate about food and flavor. Exploring food has become a passion and we are always on the lookout for inspiration and ideas that we can turn into something we know our customers will love.
GI: You recently started ramping up distribution through the independent gourmet channel, What triggered that idea?
BT: I am a strong believer that if you do something right, people will notice and that is exactly what is happening. We are continually working to develop and improve our concept. We understand how the products need to be merchandised and marketed based on our own decade of retail experience and we use that experience to help other retailers be successful in this category. Our on-tap, fresh-fill concept goes beyond traditional products that sit on a shelf and compete with the world of Amazon. We have developed an in-store experience that has higher margins for the retailers, increases category volume to levels beyond expectation, and encourages repeat business.
GI: What can a retailer expect when they begin working with you?
BT: We strive to work with only the best retailers who have pride in their stores and want to be the best in their market. We build relationships and partnerships with a high level of constant communication. While we are not a franchise, never charging a marketing or operations fee, we still provide a lot of marketing materials, training, and support because if you aren’t successful, we aren’t successful. We only work with one store per market, giving exclusivity and commitment to a retailer and the line.
GI: What can we expect from Olivelle in the near future?
BT: We are going to continue to do what we do best – help others find success. Whether that is helping a retailer increase their margins and sales volumes or helping a consumer have the most amazing meal of their life that they made themselves at home.