When Michelle and Jeff Quimby first married, they couldn’t put a meal together and began frequenting a small gourmet food shop in town. The Quimbys credit the shop’s owners with helping them discover a love for learning to cook with high-quality products. As their confidence grew, they became avid users of infused and flavored olive oils to flavor dishes they prepared at home.
Years later when the time came to start their own business, a desire to share that experience motivated them to explore infused and flavored olive oils as a retail concept. After researching the market extensively, talking to people in the business and visiting an olive oil store in Mobile, Alabama, they knew they had found the right concept.
In 2017, the Quimbys launched Nashville Olive Oil Company in Spring Hill, Tennessee, a fast-growing community 30 miles outside of Nashville. With a focus on simple and affordable gourmet products, Nashville Olive Oil Company makes flavored olive oil and balsamic vinegars its centerpiece, sourcing the highest-quality and freshest products they can find.
“What sets us apart from the olive oils and vinegars you can buy from the grocery store are traceability and freshness – we can trace every product we sell to its origin and production date, and we only sell true balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy.”
The community embraced the concept, and it’s easy to see why visiting the store. Hundreds of 2-liter stainless steel dispensers displaying mouth-watering descriptions of their contents line the wall that faces the barnwood-paneled tasting bar. The Quimbys generously pour samples, suggest flavor combinations and share knowledge with patrons. It’s not just a shop but an experience.
“We are fortunate to see new customers in our store all the time who want to experience the oils and balsamics but may not know where to start. So, we’re happy to give direction, make suggestions, and provide samples. It’s so cool to see how almost every time, they respond with the word ‘wow!’”
In late 2018, the Quimbys expanded Nashville Olive Oil Company to their second location at Marathon Village with a loan from Pathway Lending, which had also provided capital for the first location. In search of an SBA loan, Michelle had approached Pathway with her business plan at the recommendations of her SCORE mentor and a friend who was a former Pathway client.
The Quimbys fashioned their second location as a walk-up tasting bar that takes advantage of the smaller footprint and and heavy foot traffic. They enjoy being part of the community and the relationships they’ve developed with other store owners and look forward to the summer high season.
Through their continued work with PathwayWBC and Pathway Lending’s Business Advisory Services, they are developing an expansion strategy and exploring partnership opportunities such as becoming an ingredient brand for other products and adding their product to other retail food shops shelves. They are also learning how to set up and manage corporate accounts and planning for the future now that their supplier has granted them the rights to the entire Nashville market.
“Expansion takes us out of our comfort zone with our business skills. It’s a good problem to have, but we know we need to grow the right way. We originally chose Pathway for its local presence and WBC resources. We didn’t realize we were choosing a true partner in our success and are so grateful we did.”
Visit Pathway’s Women’s Business Center to find out what resources can help you grow your business.