It seems like opening an ancient history book to remember when I first broke the news of the coming of the Tree and Vine to Knoxville’s New Union Shops. After e-mail exchanges with the owners, I followed up the next day with more details about the business. This was nearly five months ago and the excitement has built ever since. Construction inched along on the actual storefront while Paul Karlsson worked behind the scenes building shelving in Asheville and transporting it to Knoxville and wife and co-owner Terri became swept up in the business of running one store while navigating all the details of opening a new one.
Finally, all the hard work has paid off and the Knoxville store of The Tree and Vine is ready to open. The hope had been for a soft opening on Wednesday, but a delay pushed that back to today with a grand opening to follow in the coming weeks. The doors should be open this morning and the Olive Oil and Vinegrettes should be flowing.
The bottom line of the business was detailed in the previous blog post:
“The store focuses on buying the best extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar possible from multiple suppliers and they are always searching for better products to present to in their store. Customers are encouraged to taste the different oils when they enter the store and after selecting a favorite oil it is placed in a bottle from the large vats and sealed with a cork and wine bottle-type foil.”
I went on to say that Terri and Paul are very environmentally conscious, “using recycled paper and offering customers a discount on a next purchase for returning a previously purchased bottle for reuse.” As I toured the store a couple of days ago Terri pointed out other efforts to be environmentally conscious, such as the use of bamboo (renewable wood) in cutting boards and knife handles.
Similarly, an emphasis is placed on local or regional products when possible; for example, she’s in search of a local potter to make some items for the store. They also plan to incorporate local artists into the decor.
In addition to the olive oil and vinegar, which we’ve been enjoying in our home since we picked up bottles at the Biscuit Festival, the store will feature all manner of kitchen supplies. Talking about kitchen supplies is almost as difficult for me as when I talk about beer, since I’m ignorant on both fronts, but Terri gave me some helpful hints along the way.
For starters, the products are not the same from Asheville to Knoxville. While there is overlap, she went into product selection for the Knoxville store with a more urban mindset. While one will find cookware, such as Swiss Diamond featuring a no-scratch, non-teflon, no-stick surface, to satisfy the most advanced chef, products for space deprived urbanites as well as the Vols among us who need to have their orange displayed even in the kitchen.
While the cookware, stemware and utensils aren’t all American made, you’ll find very few products made in China or other mass-producing countries. You won’t find most of the products offered in any other store in the city – a point of which Terri is very proud. Revol cookware, designed for moving directly from the microwave to the table and into the freezer, for example, is made in France while the shop features Italian-made Aprons and dish cloths. Exquisite knife sets, ceramic knives, pressure cookers and award-winning nested cookware which has to be seen to be believed. Also included are wine-related products such as the Bordeaux vacuum pump wine stoppers and wine gift bags.
In addition to cookware, there are also actual food products such as a wide range of sea salts (along with grinders), premium pasta, olives, pasta sauce, dried peppers, spices and mixes for pasta sauce. Just after entry you’ll find olive-based natural skin care and beauty products by Olivella natural skin care and beauty products. See the theme?
Beyond the products, the space will also be used for cooking classes demonstrating the knives and stemware as well as, potentially, wine tastings. Terri also mentioned that the space may be used for other groups, as well, noting that a book club uses their Asheville location after-hours. To keep up with special events, classes and other news from the store sign up for e-mail updates on their web site and chose the Knoxville store or both stores if you prefer.
Terri and Paul are going to be wonderful additions to our downtown community, though they’ll be part-time residents as they juggle this and their store in Asheville. Morgan Fitch, graduate of UT’s Culinary Institute joins them on a local level and there will likely be others as the business grows. Stop by and welcome them. The tasting bar is open!