"It's an experience when you come into the store," said Gary Evensen of Glen Ellyn, who owns Olive 'n Vinnie's with his wife, Karen Evensen.
Olive 'n Vinnie's took home the retail business of the year award during the Glen Ellyn Community Awards Breakfast on March 4 at the Crowne Plaza hotel. The event was hosted by the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce and the Village Fair Committee.
The store features more than 50 selections of olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world packaged under the Olive 'n Vinnie's label. Those who walk in the door can sample the balsamics and olive oils at more than 65 tasting stations.
Karen Evensen pointed out the health benefits of oils and balsamics.
"We have a butter olive oil that's non-dairy that actually is wonderful for people who are dairy intolerant," she said. "It tastes just like butter. We give them popcorn with it, and then they can try it with popcorn."
Education is key in what the couple does. They try to educate their customers on what the different oils and balsamics can be used for, outside of just putting them on salads.
The store provides customers with suggestions on ways to use the store's different oils and balsamics. Evensen is in the process of writing a cookbook.
"I've got a whole bunch of notes," she said. "Because so many people want to know how to use this stuff."
Olive 'n Vinnie's originally was located along Duane Street in downtown Glen Ellyn until it moved into a larger space on North Main Street a few years ago. Karen Evensen has deep roots to Glen Ellyn, including being a 1975 graduate of Glenbard West High School.
The family-owned and operated business – the Evensens' daughter, Kellie, also works at the store – tries to provide personal service to its customers.
"I give my cell phone number out," Karen Evensen said. "People can call me anytime. I've had people call me when I am in my jammies with a glass of wine in my hand."
Olive 'n Vinnie's also sells a variety of products, including pasta, barbecue sauces and soup mixes, along with more than 100 hand-blended spices from The Spice House in Geneva.
She loves to see her customers happy.
"It's satisfying to have people walk in here and walk out just wowed," Evensen said.
If you go
What: Olive 'n Vinnie's
Where: 449 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn
When: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; closed Sundays
Info: 630- 534-6457; oliveandvinnies.com