By Kristin Schultz
NISKAYUNA — Break out the noisemakers. Evergreen Olive Oil Co. on Van Antwerp Road recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.
“I’ve learned a lot,” said owner Erin Popeleski. “And we’ve had great support.”
Evergreen specializes in imported and domestic olive oils and balsamic vinegars and offers locally sourced specialty food items as well.
Over the past year Popeleski and her staff have been busy both serving customers from the retail store and getting Evergreen’s offerings into local restaurants and shops.
Those offerings include around 70 different oils and vinegars. Evergreen has a rotating stock of products from around the world.
“We get new products every couple of months,” Popeleski said. She went on to explain that olive oils are seasonal. The crops grown in the Northern Hemisphere are crushed in October and November while the Southern Hemisphere olives are processed in April and May.
Batches of Northern Hemisphere oil come from Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and California while southern oils hail largely from Australia, Chile, South Africa and Uruguay.
“You can taste everything,” Popeleski said. “It’s a unique experience. We’ll answer questions and provide recipes.”
Evergreen has quickly secured a loyal customer base. Many regulars not only patronize the store, but bring friends, linger and chat with Popeleski and the staff.
Along with building its customer base, Evergreen has secured spots for its oil around town. Open Door Bookstore on Jay Street in Schenectady carries the oil and vinegar in its gift shop while Pasta Pane in Clifton Park has picked up products and Mohawk Golf Club features the oils as part of its clubhouse table settings.
Popeleski has also made the rounds at local festivals, including Niska-Day and for the first time, at this year’s Little Italy Street Fest in Schenectady.
“It’s great to meet new people and talk to regulars,” Popeleski said.
Popeleski is a Niskayuna High School graduate and a town resident. She worked in finance at GE for a bit and was a stay-at-home mom for eight years. As her children got older, she started looking for other ways to spend her time.
Her cousin owns three specialty oil stores in the Syracuse area and Popeleski fell in love with the oils and concept of running her own business.
Evergreen Olive Oil Co. carries infused olive oils with flavor profiles ranging from customer-favorite Tuscan herb — which Popeleski said is ideal to use for cooking chicken — to spicy harissa or chipotle.
The fused olive oils are oils that were processed by crushing both the olives and the flavoring agents together like the blood orange variety or wild rosemary available at Evergreen.
Variety is the theme across the urns of balsamic vinegars as well. Popeleski likes to use the cranberry-pear white balsamic vinegar on a salad while customers have embraced the umami-drenched neapolitan herb dark balsamic for marinating proteins.
Popeleski plans to continue to expand her presence in restaurants and retail shops. She will again decorate the second floor of the shop for the holidays and offer gift sets for shoppers looking for something unique.
“I have loved getting to know the customers,” Popeleski said. “I grew up here and am proud to have brought this to the community.”
The shop, at 1328 Van Antwerp Road, is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.