When Alex Yuen and Cheryl McMenemy embarked on a journey to start a business together, they needed to find something that made sense for both of them and the experience they brought to the table. Alex has a long history in the food and beverage industry and Cheryl has over 27 years in the media industry.
After being invited to visit a friend who had just opened a specialty food shop in the Niagara area, the inception of a concept for a business model in Collingwood stated to form. “We were completely blown away when we visited our friend’s store, and thought that concepts like this could definitely work in Collingwood.” recalls Alex. “This would be a really good fit, because the local food movement in Collingwood has come a long way.”
After two years of planning and research, Collingwood Olive Oil opened its doors. Now in business for over eight years, this gem of a specialty food shop offers on average over 20 different types of olive oil, 25 different types of balsamic vinegar, and a nice selection of specialty food items to choose from including their very own and very popular Holy Shipyards BBQ sauce and jams and chutneys that are locally produced in small batches. “Chef Alex works very closely with our producer on the flavor profile for each of our products.” notes Cheryl “and our olive oils are sourced from small estate organic producers across 22 countries we’re proud to say that people keep coming back for more.”
Not just a store, Collingwood Olive Oil is a tasting bar too. “We have a ‘try before you buy’ marketing approach to food.” explains Cheryl “you can’t go into a grocery store and start opening up jars. We offer walk-in tasting tours which are very popular with visitors from out of town and great for bridal parties or bachelorettes as part of a weekend experience. If someone wants to book a group tour during regular business hours, they’re complimentary and people just need to call the store in advance so that we’re prepared for the occasion.”
Tasty tip: If you’re in need of some inspiration and want to put something tasty on the table, Chef Alex has created an incredible recipe collection which is available on-line. Each recipe is easy to execute with step by step instructions and suitable for any type of culinary ability.
When Alex and Cheryl launched Collingwood Olive Oil, one of the first things they did was make sure they participated in the Collingwood Downtown Farmers’ Market. “It was essential element in launching Collingwood Olive Oil. It gave us a great platform to introduce our business to the community, offer tasting samples and start the conversation about what we were all about.” Alex recalls. “When you launch any business, you’re going to have learning curves; you’re going to have bumps in the road. My Dad always said that visitors are the icing on the cake, but you’ve got to cater to the locals because they’re the ones that are going to support you all year round and the Collingwood Downtown Farmers’ Market was the perfect place for us to connect with both visitors that are here for just a weekend, or the locals who are loyal market visitors week after week.”
Collingwood Olive Oil is also a great resource for corporate gift giving, wedding favours or referral gifts. “A lot of local realtors ask us to create custom ‘welcome to your new home’ gift baskets and we work with them on price points and product selection to create something that’s both delicious and memorable.” says Cheryl.
You can visit Collingwood Olive Oil in Collingwood Downtown at 42 Ste Marie St. open Tuesday to Saturday from 10AM – 5PM or find them on-line at www.collingwoodoliveoil.ca/. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/collingwoodoliveoil or Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/collingwoodoliveoil/