Where else but in Maine would you expect to find the inspiration to open an olive oil emporium in Saratoga Springs?
Unlikely as it sounds, Clinton “Chip” Braidwood says that’s what happened. He and his wife Barbara were on vacation in Rockland, Maine, last fall and there discovered Fiore Artisan Olive Oil and Vinegar.
This spring they joined with other family members to open their own store, Saratoga Olive Oil Co., at 484 Broadway. Braidwood says the response from the consuming public has been “wonderful.”
Customers like the idea that they can taste the store’s olive oil and balsamic vinegar products before they buy them, he said.
The business offers more than 60 flavors of extra-virgin olive oil from around the world as well as vintage balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy.
“We follow the crush,” his brother, Chad Braidwood, said about the olive oil production in such places as Australia, Chile, California and Spain.
“It’s a tasting gallery,” Chad Braidwood said. “You get to taste pretty much everything we have.”
The business is a family project that includes brothers Clinton and Chad Braidwood, who grew up in Niskayuna and graduated from Niskayuna High School, and Clinton’s wife, Barbara.
Other family members, including Gary and Michael Falk, built the Adirondack-style custom-made counters and display areas.
“I like the idea that you can try it before you bring it home,” said Kate Cunningham of East Greenbush who was shopping for olive oil recently at the Broadway store.
Sarah James, also of East Greenbush, said she was buying multiple bottles of extra virgin olive oil as wedding party gifts.
“I think the prices are really reasonable,” James said. A small bottle of olive oil is $12.95, and a large bottle is $16.95.
She said she has been back to the store several times after her first visit.
“The presentation is wonderful. They have an amazing variety,” James said.
The olive oils range in flavor from mild to robust. Some of them are mixed with herbs and others with such flavors as chipotle pepper. Some of the olive oils are infused with lemons and blood oranges.
“We spend a lot of money getting the oil from the grove to the customer’s mouth as fast as possible,” Chip Braidwood said.
He said the difference between cheaper olive oil and the extra virgin he sells is that his oil is from the first press or “cold press.”
Cheaper oils come from subsequent presses when heat is added and strips the oil of nutritional values.
Chip said he and his wife, who live in Queensbury with their 2-month-old daughter, were inspired to open their own business in Saratoga Springs after discovering the Rockland, Maine, store last October.
The brothers pooled their savings and various family members helped them paint, furnish and stock the store, which was an eyeglasses store in recent years.
Chip, Chad and Barbara all did clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry prior to opening the store.
This meant lots of travel that they didn’t enjoy.
Clinton and Chad’s father, John Braidwood, is the store’s official greeter and their mother, Susan, helps fill bottles.
“This is a family thing. Thank God we are handy,” said Chad Braidwood, who still lives in old Niskayuna.
Their grandfather, Clinton Braidwood, was president of Schenectady International Inc. some years ago.
The walls of the store are decorated with Saratoga-themed paintings by Tom Myott, a Glens Falls-based artist known for his paintings of horses at the Saratoga Race Course. The paintings are for sale.
Rock Hill Bakery, which is located in Glens Falls and Gansevoort, supplies the store with bread used for sampling the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Saratoga Crackers from the Little Bakery of Middle Grove are also for sale.
Categories: Schenectady County