Nancy Smith was on her second retirement from the education field when she opened A Taste of Olive in West Chester four years ago. Now, Smith is days away from expanding her artisanal olive oil and healthy eating store to its fourth location in Chestnut Hill at 8505 Germantown Avenue. Smith, 67, hopes to open A Taste of Olive’s Chestnut Hill branch by this Saturday, Oct. 13. Although Smith first went through locations in West Chester, Ardmore and Haddon Heights, N.J., opening a store in Chestnut Hill was Smith’s first choice. “From the beginning we wanted to do Chestnut Hill. What kept us was dealing with the city of Philadelphia, the business part,” Smith says. “We want stores in the heart of the community.” A native of Kankakee, Ill., Smith relocated to Doylestown 12 years ago, as she neared the end of her career in education. She and her daughter developed a taste for olive oil with her daughter because of its health benefits at first.
Smith says her olive oil business resonates with customers spanning all backgrounds and familiarity with olive oil, whether they want to splurge on a high-end bottle for a special occassion, or are seasoned connoisseurs. What distinguishes A Taste of Olive from other stores, Smith says, is that customers can sample any of the 80 varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Rows of shiny metallic cylinders line the aisles, each with their own spouts. “We love the idea that you can taste them,” Smith says. “There are great olive oil brands in bottles, and they have flavors, but you don’t know unless you try them. It’s a substantial purchase if you’re not ready.” Much like wine, Smith says olive oil’s flavor profile varies on its origin. A Taste of Olive features olive oils and balsamic oil from Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa and South America as domestics. The store also has a range of vegan and gluten-free products like pastas and vegetable spreads, martini olives, plates and dining accessories as well. Smith attributes the rapid success of her store to its simple mentality – quality products, price options ranging from affordable options to higher end, and a friendly atmosphere to make all customers feel comfortable. “People who like to cook are in general very fun, nice people to talk to,” Smith says. “The way the store is set up is for sharing and talking.”