`The Story of Golden Bless Olive Oil (So Far) - Olive Oil Times

The Story of Golden Bless Olive Oil (So Far)

Dec. 27, 2011
Gus Kolias

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Theodoros Karras and Gus Kolias

I was born in Canada to Greek immi­grants, and would spend my sum­mers in Greece with my par­ents. My olive oil story begins in Astros – a lit­tle sea­side vil­lage in the Peloponnese province of Greece. It is there where I first met my cousin, Theodoros Karras, who spoke no English and I could only speak a few words of Greek. Since then I have learned to speak Greek and he has learned to say two or three words in English.

The years went by, I went to school and he worked on his olive trees. After grad­u­a­tion, I worked in the fam­ily busi­ness of prop­erty man­age­ment and he worked on his olive trees. I became a real estate devel­oper and he worked on his olive trees. Every sum­mer I would go to Greece and bring home some of his amaz­ing olive oil. At first it was a refilled 1.5 liter coke bot­tle, later I was bring­ing back a suit case full of 1.5 liter bot­tles for me and my friends.

Golden Bless extra vir­gin olive oil is life­long pas­sion of Theodoros. He grows tiny green olives called Manakia on the hill­sides of the fam­ily estate. They are picked and then cold pressed into unique light smooth but­tery oil. The acid­ity lev­els are super low and the nutri­tional value is high. The olive oil has no burn or bit­ter­ness as many of the other vari­eties have. My cousin’s dream was to bot­tle his olive oil and bring it to America.

More than likely his oil has made it to America in a bot­tle label of prod­uct of Italy” as Italians would come and pur­chase all his and his neigh­bors oil. He claims that he was born under an olive tree and hopes to die there too.

10 years ago I retired and was spend­ing more time in Astros. Theodoros was con­stantly ask­ing me to help him to bring his oil to America. He had researched all sorts of facts and fig­ures on the North American mar­ket. I tried to avoid him but when he started show­ing up my hang­out — Jack’s Taverna, he took advan­tage of me at my weak­est moments, when I was drink­ing. He is so per­sis­tent I have now nick­named him Teddy Harass. He had come up with a name for his olive oil, Golden Bless.

Entrance to the Golden Bless America Estate in Astros

I said I didn’t like the name and we hired a mar­ket­ing firm. It cost us 3,000 euros to be told Golden Bless was the per­fect name. The story behind the name is that in ancient times olive oil was blessed” and Hypocrites called it liq­uid gold.” After some seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion (3 or 4 drinks) I came up with our cor­po­rate name Golden Bless America.” I wanted God Bless America, but it was already taken. Labels were designed and printed, bot­tles and tins were filled and a con­tainer was loaded. The oil set sail to Canada.

The con­tainer finally arrived in Calgary in May, I opened the door and was imme­di­ately bap­tised by oil pour­ing out. We had the con­tainer loaded loose, boxes stacked up floor to ceil­ing with no pal­lets. About ¼ of the tins had tipped, bent, rup­tured and emp­tied. Oil was pour­ing out all over the park­ing lot of our ware­house. I felt like cry­ing, but I reas­sured myself that after all we had insur­ance. They were noti­fied and I was told to take lots of pic­tures and a marine sur­veyor would come to inspect. The con­tainer had to be emp­tied to avoid fur­ther envi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ter.

A Golden Bless olive oil tast­ing

The con­tainer was unloaded, we were all drenched in olive oil. We spent 3 days sal­vage all we could. It took a week to clean the undam­aged tins that were cov­ered with oil. The marine sur­veyor after 6 days arrived and con­cluded that it was the fault of the bot­tler who had loaded the con­tainer improp­erly which meant insur­ance did not cover our loss. Recovering our losses with the bot­tler did not go well and now we are using a new bot­tler. Subsequent ship­ments have all been made using pal­lets.

The story of Golden Bless doesn’t end here, it actu­ally is just the begin­ning. Right now I have to load up the Goldenblessmobile and drive 700 kilo­me­ters from Calgary to Saskatoon to deliver 70 cases to our newest cus­tomer. I could ship them but feel that on as many deliv­er­ies as pos­si­ble espe­cially the first it means a lot to our cus­tomers to have that per­sonal touch, and besides I can pick up the cheque. I have trav­eled thou­sands of miles to seek out cus­tomers in Canada who can appre­ci­ate an amaz­ing olive oil at a bar­gain price. What I have learned in my trav­els is if I can get them to try it, they will buy it.

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