Across the U.S., olive oil specialty stores are popping up to the surprise and delight of culinary-minded consumers. In New York City, shoppers are visiting shops like O & CO., O Live Brooklyn and The Filling Station to purchase gourmet olive oils, infused vinegars, exotic salts and more.
Founded by Laura Nuter, The Filling Station is an independent outpost located in the high-profile Chelsea Market, New York’s premier destination for foodies with its famous restaurants, specialty grocers and retail shops, and food television production studios. Nuter is culinary-trained and formerly owned a cheese and charcuterie shop in Brooklyn. She took an entrepreneurial leap into the business of olive oil after stumbling upon a kitchenware store in Maine that also sold a selection of all-natural olive oils and vinegars. She first thought the concept would be perfect for her store in Brooklyn, but then realized it warranted a dedicated shop of its own. Nuter and her business partner opened The Filling Station in August, 2010.
With its fresh, cold press extra virgin olive oils, specialty oils, balsamic and wine vinegars, exotic salts, and craft beers, The Filling Station fits perfectly within the culinary mecca that is Chelsea Market. From the beginning, Nuter was focused on sourcing the best-quality oils in the world. Nuter and her staff, many of whom are also culinary-trained, work diligently to ensure that their products are consistently top-quality. The Filling Station team is well-educated on their oils, accompanying benefits and suggestions on how to use them.
The store creates a true tasting and culinary experience for its customers, encouraging shoppers to actively sample the curated assortment. The Filling Station is also environmentally–conscious: its wares are sold in reusable, bottles and jars which customers can refill with future purchases at a 10 percent discount. Nuter clearly considers her company’s footprint; the fact that everything can be refilled not only gives customers a reason to come back to the store, but also helps the planet.
The store’s unique location attracts neighborhood locals, tourists from across the globe, and city chefs and bartenders. Regular customers love that they have access to such high-quality extra virgin olive oils and typically stop in to stock up on non-infused varieties. Nuter has found that her loyal customers are very knowledgeable and well-informed about olive oil, asking about freshness, when the oils were pressed, and even polyphenols. Out-of-town visitors love the tasting experience and gravitate more toward the infused oils and dark balsamic vinegars. They often come into the store looking for oils and vinegars to pair with fresh bread, meats and vegetables purchased elsewhere in Chelsea Market.
When asked about the burgeoning trend of boutique olive oil shops opening up seemingly everywhere, Nuter likened it to the recent exploding interest in chocolate, coffee and craft beers. “People are demanding higher quality. They want to know where their oils come from and they want to try before they buy. Freshness, quality and flavor are incredibly important to customers.” She notes that while many of their oils, vinegars and salts come from overseas, the Filling Station supports local producers whenever possible. Their butternut squash and pumpkinseed oils come from nearby upstate New York.
Nuter is excited to announce that a second Manhattan location is in the works with a projected opening date of March 2014.