Spice up 'pandemic cooking' with help from a Southeast store
If you are experiencing pandemic doldrums, and you're getting tired of your own home cooking, you can spice up a special dish, or add a dash of difference to an old standby recipe, with the assistance of the Sellwood Savory Spice Shop.
The same applies to cooking for a special occasion: It is easy to find exotic recipes on the Internet using favorite main ingredients that will please your partner, friend, spouse, or family. But finding the needed, often unusual, spice for that dish is not always easy. And finding a better spice for an everyday or every-week favorite just might not happen, if the cook doesn't explore a bit.
The "Savory Spice Shop", at 7857 S.E. 13th Avenue across from the Sellwood Branch Library, is set up to help customers explore spices and condiments. The shop is one of three of this franchise in the Pacific Northwest – another is in Bend; and there is also one in Lynnwood, Washington, outside of Seattle.
Sellwood shop owners Jim and Anne Brown bought into the franchise nearly nine years ago – because Jim had spent over 35 years in the world of corporate finance and accounting, and felt it was time for a change.
"I've always enjoyed cooking and playing around with flavors in the kitchen. So, when I discovered the opportunity to open a Savory Spice Shop as franchise owner/operator, I was very intrigued. I fell in love with the 'Savory Spice' mission, which is to provide the home cook with the largest and freshest selection of top-quality culinary spices available anywhere in the country," remarks Brown. The Sellwood store has a total of 600 spice products, 100 of which are locally-sourced.
In July of last year, the Browns took the next step in developing their business, and hired Jim Crawford to be Store Manager. With extensive experience in retail, and a love of cooking, Crawford has partnered with Brown to be one of the "two Jims" running the store. A handful of part-time employees, many of them local and all with a love of cooking, assist them.
Crawford says he is thoroughly enjoying his job, and responded to our question about being part of a franchise. "As a spice shop, being part of a franchise is the best of both worlds. Having a central spice factory in Denver that serves 31 stores [nationwide] allows us to have a consistent supply of properly-sourced and freshly-ground spices for our customers. "On the other hand, being locally owned and operated allows us both to support our local community, and to select unique local products and brands to carry in our store."
Owner Brown is passionate about spices, and has many tips about the use and storage of Savory's products. Spices are purchased in bulk from Denver, and are then packaged into small quantities – 2.2 oz. in spice packages, or into jars of larger quantities. He says the store is "customer centered", to provide the spice and amount the customer needs.
Gift packets of three different spices can be purchased for $15, and samples are available with a 25% discount if one returns to buy something sampled. Oils, vinegars, condiments, BBQ spices, and fruit spreads (with less sugar than preserves) from Oregon towns are also for sale.
Anyone who makes a purchase can be signed up to receive occasional e-mails with tantalizing recipes and information about the spices used.
During the Holidays, the store made contributions of money and spices to various organizations, and currently there are jars in the store where customers can make donations to a variety of nonprofits – to Central City Concern, the HALO Trust, Oregon Dog Rescue, World Central Kitchen, and the MESD Outdoor School.
Store hours are: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 to 5 on Sunday. Curb pickup is available. COVID-safe practices are observed in the store.
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