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Olive oil has become more or less a household staple due to its numerous uses and health benefits. When used properly, it can help put moisture back in your skin and hair, remove paint and makeup, and polish furniture. When ingested, it has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol, decrease blood pressure, and even help reduce inflammation.
Thousands of different types of olive oils exist from various countries all across the globe. With so many potential benefits, both internal and external, it’s no wonder its popularity increases every year; currently, over two million tons are consumed a year all around the world.
Downtown Paris is known for its variety of unique shops, but one thing was missing: until recently, it didn’t have its very own olive oil shop. Why not, when something is so popular and beneficial, open up a shop nearby so locals do not have to drive hours to obtain the products they love? Paris resident Robyn Zimmerman did just that earlier this year when she opened Paris’s newest addition to the collection of downtown shops: Olive Paris.
The idea for Olive Paris has been brewing in Zimmerman’s mind since she stepped into her first olive oil store five years ago; it was love at first sight. In the years since, she has not only revisited the Arlington shop several times, but has also taken her love for the product across state borders.
“And since then…we have visited shops all across the country and I just fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s a great product and I wanted people to be able to have that here.”
The shop is located at 115 South Main, a spot many may recognize as the former home of Creative Candy Designs, which relocated late last year. After searching for Olive’s perfect home for months, the timing of the space’s availability worked out perfectly and everything just seemed to fall into place.
“The space became available right at the right time, but I had already been visiting shops and I had already started training and I had already done some investigation,” Zimmerman said. “I had done about three months investigation before in preparation before I found the space. It just happened to work out just like it should.”
Though Zimmerman shopped around (so to speak) for a space, one thing she always knew for certain: she wanted to be downtown.
“I love being a part of downtown. You know, it’s got a [vibrancy] that, sometimes when you’re on the outside, you don’t get to experience that,” she said. “But being a part [of] the merchants down here and the Downtown Association and the Main Street Board…you know, working with everybody, it is a vibrant place to be and I hope to contribute to that as well.”
Olive Paris specializes in extra virgin olive oil, meaning that the oil comes from the first press of freshly harvested olives. All of their oils are provided by Veronica Foods. Located in Oakland, California, this company is dedicated to producing only the finest and freshest extra virgin olive oil. According to Zimmerman, this particular company is non-GMO certified, meaning, most simply, its products have not been genetically modified.
“The reason we went with this company is because they have the highest standards in the industry,” she said. “They are organic …and, you know, if you’re going to spend a little extra money for a good olive oil, then I want it to be the best that we can get and that’s the reason why we went with this company.”
This also means customers won’t find any grocery store products here. According to Zimmerman, stores often stock extra virgin olive oil that is cut sometimes with sixty percent canola, the cheapest oil. Therefore, though the customer may think they’re getting a good deal, they are actually paying more for an inferior product. This will never be an issue with Olive Paris, which will only stock olive oil that is fresh and pure.
“One of the things that’s the problem with grocery store olive oil is that sometimes they can be up to two years old before they even reach the grocery store shelves, and olive oil is not like wine,” said Zimmerman. “It doesn’t get better with age. It degrades with time and so people use olive oil because they think it’s healthy for them and if you have olive oil that’s two years old, it’s lost all of its health benefits.”
So, what can shoppers expect to find inside Olive Paris? Zimmerman certainly did her research and training before officially opening the doors on February 1st. Her hard work and dedication is evidenced throughout the entire store. From the beautifully and carefully designed layout, to the “Ciao Y’all” sign hanging above the door, Zimmerman puts her own Texas twist on a product and store that customers are sure to love as soon as they enter.
Take a step across the threshold, and be granted the rare opportunity to travel the world without ever leaving Paris. How can this be? Olive Paris carries sixty varieties of imported oils and vinegars. In a sense, it is bringing the world to Paris.
“[Veronica Foods is] an importer from ten different countries all over the world, and they supply us with products from ten different countries from all over the world right here in Paris, Texas,” Zimmerman said.
Of course, though olive oil has many external benefits, this shop’s products taste far too good to waste; it is certainly not the place to go if you don’t wish to use the oil for cooking and nutritional purposes. So, with so many different products to choose from, how do you know which one you will like? No problem. On the right side of the shop is a wall lined with stainless steel fustis (small tanks with spigots for dispensing oil), allowing customers to try before they buy, which certainly contributes to the shop’s uniqueness.
“What I think sets me apart is, it’s not just a shop. When people come in, it’s not just a shop,” said Zimmerman. “They come in and they experience a lot of different things. They get to actually taste things before they decide on something. They get to choose what they love.”
Olive Paris is not simply a shop that sells olive oils. Other products offered include balsamic vinegars, and specialty oils, including sesame and walnut oil, pastas and even gift items. Olive Paris is open to ventures outside of the oil business as well. Upstairs, at the back of the store lies a loft that can be used to host small events and gatherings.
“But we are in the works of planning cooking classes and just some things for people to get out and do and bring them downtown,” Zimmerman said. “Show them, you know, if they haven’t been downtown in a while, they need to take a look.”
However, space is limited.
“I’m limited to 20-24 people upstairs that would be comfortable, but I’m open,” Zimmerman said. “If somebody wants to talk to me about something, and I’ll just evaluate that on a case-by-case basis.”
Zimmerman also stated that the shop can be used as a storefront for local business people who wish to display their products, and currently already displays locally made products, ranging from handcrafted birdhouses to handmade goat’s milk soap.
Olive Paris offers a truly remarkable and unique shopping experience for all, whether you want to purchase olive oil and vinegar, or a gift basket for your dearest friend. This shop is definitely worth visiting.
For more information about displaying products or using Olive’s loft for your next event, contact Robyn Zimmerman at 903-739-2420.
By Courtney McNeal, eParisExtra