Olive Oil Franchisers Tapping U.S. Foodies For Growth
Curt Campbell, who founded Oilerie with his wife Mary Jo in 2004, has 7 franchise stores. After a trip to Europe where the couple saw an Oil & Vinegar store and noticed that even delis in Poland were doing a similar thing with liquors and honey, Campbell couldn't understand why the concept wasn't in the U.S. Beyond the high-end foodie factor, Campbell also thought about olive oil's myriad of health-related benefits as a substitute for butter.
The couple trademarked the olive oil bar concept and business took off from there. Last year, the company combined did $750,000 in retail sales (excluding wholesale and web sales).
"There is this real hunger for olive oil knowledge in America," Campbell says. "We understand that our opportunity is to educate the customer ... What we're doing at the Oilerie is just taking them by the hand and showing them this is what olive oil is all about."
Campbell says in order to bring in the highest profit, the company keeps square footage of the stores to a minimum. Sales areas are only 325 square feet. He also uses only one bottle size.
"We've got the system that allows us to sell ...our core product at 3-5 times markups. In food that's unheard of. We know how to sell a lot of it and we know how to be very profitable," he says.
Campbell has big plans. In five years, he hopes to have 50 stores across the country and -- just like Starbucks(SBUX) is to coffee -- eventually he wants the Oilerie name to be "synonymous" with olive oil.
Stermer says it comes back to the experience customers receive while in the stores. "A big part of which is our broad product selection plus the service we supply. We believe the international décor, the quality of our products, and this unmatched experience produce a 'Wow' factor translating into a massive differentiator for our concept in the market," he says.
Whether it's a tasting bar or gift purchase, new and different ways are opening up for consumers to shop and purchase olive oil -- and for franchise-minded business owners and investors, it could be a concept worth tapping into.
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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