For those who have traveled to Italy and long to find an olive oil they sampled there, others who hail from Lo Stivale and are missing flavors from home, and still others who simply just love the taste of authentic Mediterranean olive oils, Olio2go.com just might become one of your favorite websites.
Husband and wife team Jeff Chandler and Donna Morea founded Olio2go in 2000, when the e-commerce boom was in full swing. Both had backgrounds in technology and a passion for Italian olive oil. They opened a small retail location in Virginia in 2012, but most of their focus remains on the website.
Luanne Savino O’Loughlin, manager of Olio2go, explains that the site’s direct-to-consumer offering is unlike any other. They focus on having olive oils from every oil-producing region in Italy along with other artisanal products. Their inventory includes oils from the higher-profile, regions like Tuscany, Umbria, and Sicily, among others, along with areas that are not typically known for their olive trees, such as Veneto and Basilicata.
O’Loughlin emphasizes the level of care that goes into storing the oils, saying that the oils are “incredibly well-stored” with considerations for temperature, lights and time. At any one time, Olio2go has about 70 olive oils available for sale on the site, accompanied by information on the differences in the regions from which these oils come as well as the ways that the olive oils can enhance food.
Despite inherent challenges in sourcing products from certain regions, such as overcoming communications barriers or physically accessing producers, the staff at Olio2go works to ensure that they have representation from every region.
The team at Olio2go began by buying all of their items from other importers, but they have progressed to doing some of their importing, which allows them to offer exclusive products. They aim to showcase Italy’s regional specialties, unique producers and harder-to-find products. For example, one of their most popular products right now is a decadent pistachio spread, Crema di Pistacchio DOP, from the small town of Bronte.
O’Loughlin describes Olio2go’s customer base as diverse. “We have customers who have recently visited Italy and want to recreate those memories. Then we have other people with Italian heritage who are looking for provisions that represent where their families are from.” She mentions that they have another contingency of clientele that is well aware of the health benefits of olive oil. These individuals know that fresh olive oil is best and are interested in the detailed profiles of the oils, including information on acidity and polyphenol levels.
In many ways, O’Loughlin likens the marketing of olive oils to that of wine. Brand names often serve as identifiers that customers recognize and value when making purchasing decisions. Furthermore, the same care, craftsmanship and magic that go into producing wine also apply to olive oil. One can develop and fine-tune his or her palate for olive oils by frequently tasting the multitude of varieties from around the world.
Olio2go is focused on expanding its web presence in the near future, with possible extension of brick-and-mortar store operations over the longer term. The site receives a considerable number of inquiries from customers worldwide, prompting research into how to potentially service international buyers. At the moment, shipping is available in the United States and Canada.
Global consumer interest in olive oil continues to proliferate, and visibility into the nuances of sourcing, production, storage and use is also on the rise. During this exciting time in the olive oil world, Olio2go will maintain their commitment to offering high quality Italian olive oils from a range of producers, including those lesser-known family-owned operations whose oils may never have been enjoyed in the United States if not for the site.
O’Loughlin hopes customers understand what it takes for small producers to put olive oil in a bottle for them. “These oils are handmade, crafted products that represent family traditions and passion that have been passed down across generations.”
She goes on to say that her position at Olio2go is the most fun job she has ever had. “I love helping producers, selling a great product, and serving our customers. Our olive oils add value to people’s lives; they add flavor to meals, fun to the dinner table, and are healthy too.”
Olio2go’s website is olio2go.com. Their store is located at 8400 Hilltop Road, Suite H, Fairfax, Virginia.