A new store specializing in olive oils, balsalmic vinegars and other food offerings will open next month in Loves Park.
Owners of The Olive Oil Experience hope to have a soft opening for the business by about Aug. 20. It will be located at 6340 E. Riverside Blvd. in the East Riverside Retail Center near Pho Square restaurant and Dukes & Lords Family Haircutting Center.
Rockford residents Charles Ducharme and his wife, Brandi, are the owners, and Charles Ducharme said they had always been interested in owning their own business. A trip to Missouri last year where they tried a white peach balsamic vinegar turned into months of research and talk of opening a store that sells gourmet oils.
That’s when the Ducharmes came across a California-based company called Veronica Foods that helps people set up stores that sell olive oils. It’s not a franchise store, but the company manufacturers some of the olive oils, and entrepreneurs sign exclusive supply agreements to sell Veronica’s brands in the stores.
Charles Ducharme said The Olive Oil Experience has the exclusive territory for the Rockford area. There are similar stores in Galena and the Chicago suburbs.
The store in Loves Park will have several different flavors of fresh olive oils, balsamic vinegars and gourmet oils on display. Customers can sample the products, and the store will have about 20 different olive oils and 15 different balsamic vinegars that include flavors like lemon, blood orange, cilantro, onion and garlic.
Ducharme said the store will also carry gourmet oils like white truffle oil, sesame oil and almond oil.
“We’ll have little sample cups so you can try all of them,” Ducharme said. “So you know what you like. We don’t want you to buy anything you’re not going to use. If you like it, we’ll bottle it fresh and send you home with it.”
The Olive Oil Experience also will carry artisan pastas, gourmet pasta sauces, peppercorns, sea salts and more.
The store will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Ducharme said he’s working on possible store hours for Sunday.
Visit theoliveoilexperience.com or find the store on Facebook. Ducharme said they hope to also host private tasting parties at the store, too, once it’s open.