While visiting family in Connecticut this weekend, I found myself at Whole Foods where a quick run into the store for Tom's Toothpaste turned into a 35 minute perusing session of what I've been labeling as "field research" as we prepare for The Cheese Shop of Salem to open its doors. I browsed the beer section, wondering where the wine was located, and was told by a friendly grocer that wine could not be sold in grocery stores in CT, which I had forgotten after having lived in the Boston area for six years. I inspected the beer section with delight, looking at labels and noting which ones stood out and how the beers were organized. I opted for three of Maine Beer Company's 16.9 oz bottles: Peeper (American Ale), Zoe (Amber Ale), and a Mean Old Tom (American Stout). They would make great refreshments for a family BBQ in a few hours. I also grabbed a six pack of Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, which Susanne and I split the other night after a long work day. The addition of nitrogen gave the beer a creamy mouth feel with hints of coffee and chocolate with no noticeable hops. Perfect way to end a day.
I had forgotten about the toothpaste staple and snapped out of my beer haze and wandered towards the front of the store with an arm full of refreshments. Locating an abandoned shopping cart, I freed my hands in order to try some body cream samples at a pop-up booth. Handing out samples was Adam Grossman, the founder and owner of the Seaweed Bath Co. out of Austin, Texas. Adam began the Seaweed Bath Co. with his wife Allison to develop hydrating, seaweed-based formulas to make creams, shampoos, conditioners, and soaps. With a team of harvesters in Portland, Maine, Adam and Allison collect their seaweed directly from the ocean to use in their products. We spoke a bit about the importance of natural skin products and how essential they are for day-to-day living, especially for those with psoriasis or eczema. The conversation drifted to how I was part of the team opening a cheese and wine shop in Salem and his first question was, "Oh! Do you make your own wine or cheese?" I smiled and said, not yet, but I would like to one day. We spoke about the shop's philosophy of selling products with an emphasis on sustainable practices and natural production. Natural wine, similar to his natural skin products, is important to digest just as it is to use natural, of-the-earth ingredients externally on one's body. Beauty is skin deep, as the saying goes; what's inside the soaps that we use, and the beverages that we drink, and the treats that we eat, matters to how we live our days. Adam said he would be traveling next to Portland, Maine to harvest seaweed and he asked what kinds of natural wine I would suggest. I suggested he stop at Portland's new wine shop Maine and Loire, a lovely shop with a knowledgable staff and a quaint selection of natural wines.
It's a beautiful thing being able to hear people's stories of creativity and curiosity which entice them to the point of beginning a business. Speaking with small business owners gets me even more excited about The Cheese Shop of Salem opening soon! The passion of small business owners is inspiring and motivating. I left Whole Foods with a paper bag full of free samples from Adam and bottle of his lavender body cream, a bit too much beer for a Sunday morning, and mint toothpaste. Field research accomplished!
How to pour a Nitro beer!