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Meet Carol Sapoznik of Olive Connection in Brookline

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carol Sapoznik.

Carol, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m a foodie, love to eat, love to cook, and I am a retailer. I love to go to food shops and markets and get inspired. When traveling you see beautiful unique shops throughout the world selling all of the olive oils and vinegars, crafts, and that is what inspires me. I worked at Crate and Barrel for many years, and when I left, my husband was retired, and our son went to culinary school and moved back to Brookline from Colorado and we agreed to open not just a little shop but something really special as a family. I didn’t know the food business, so we spent a year studying, looking at all the competitors, seeing the pricing, understanding distributors, doing a franchise or doing it ourselves. Then we got all our ideas together and produced the business plan. We polled all our friends, had flip charts in every category for the ideas. By that time I had put together photos with our vision for the store. Then we started looking at spaces. We had our plan so we knew what we had to spend. Getting our resources together, our product assortment and where we wanted to be was fun as exciting. We found a landlord who would take a chance on a first time small business owner and bring value to his building and the neighborhood. He loved our vision of what the store would become. We have lived in Brookline for 30 years and knew many people there so it made sense for us to open in Brookline as we knew we would instantly have customers that would support us. And that has been true.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s a huge undertaking and a huge risk. If you thought too much about it you would probably not do it, but we were excited and wanted to have fun and willing to take the risk and have pride in our accomplishments. Our customers and friends have supported us tremendously. We are a community that wants small business to be successful especially if you are offering a unique customers experience. There is foot traffic, the demographics are outstanding, new customers every year, established customers and densely populated. We are a bit off the grid, Coolidge Corner but that is okay. We also had to get our responsibilities settled as a family on who would do what, timing, scheduling etc. We make it work. One of the 3 of us is there all the time. We have only a few wonderful employees and it is a great place for a high school student to intern and learn about small business. We partner with local chefs for cooking classes and rent out our space for wine classes and private tastings. We have fun that is the motto. If it is not fun we do not do it. Now we are present also at the local farmers markets for the summer and that has given us new customers.

Please tell us about Olive Connection.
We are a specialty food store focusing on olive oils and vinegars from around the world. We have only the freshest oils and vinegars, the latest harvest. We also sell specialty foods, some locally produced, and others unique from Italy and Spain. We carry product you cannot find in super markets. We have cheese and olives too, as well as many gifts. Our gift baskets are unique for all seasons. We are a tasting store too, which means that the oils and vinegars are always there to sample so that you come home with something you love. We teach our customers how to combine the flavors. We have something for everyone. We have fresh baguettes daily too. Our products are always changing and we highlight our new arrivals weekly. Our regular customers are always finding new things to buy besides their tried and trues. What sets us apart is our unique product offerings, our friendly service, a store that you can spend time in and feel comfortable.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
We are doing everything that we knew to do…and learning all the time. We did not know how important the gift business would be, so as we evolved, we added more hard goods and unique gifts. We also added categories our customers asked for. So when we opened we had a limited assortment, and then gradually added as we knew what our customer would buy. We only bring in items that we have tasted and like.

We learned about the website and e commerce. Took a lot of time to create a good site. The ahah moment on that is that it has to be updated constantly and social media and website is critically important to be up to date and changing. This is a big challenge and expensive for a small business and a big learning curve.

Our customers teach us all the time how to become better and provide a unique experience for the store. We welcome their involvement.

Pricing:

  • Olive Oil and Vinegars are priced the same
  • 15.95 for 200ml and 19.95 for 375 ml
  • Loyalty program, bring your bottle back and get $1.00 off
  • Loyalty program after 9 of one size get one free

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1426 Beacon Street
    Brookline, MA 02446
  • Website: www.oliveconnection.com
  • Phone: 617-879-9980
  • Email: oliveconnection@gmail.com
  • Instagram: oliveconnection
  • Facebook: Olive Connection @oliveconnection
  • Twitter: Olive Connection @brooklineolive
  • Yelp: olive connection

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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