Saturday in the Old Town Shop

I 30th anniversary 7.12.09 080am not sure if it is the case for all small business owners, but for us there just are not enough hours in the day to get our work done. It might be that we have more work than most in that we source,
purchase, warehouse, grind, blend, mix and package our of our 400
products in house primarily by hand. Many days we struggle against the clock to get our work done, and we don’t sit down to dinner at  home too many nights because we don’t actually even GET home until 8 or 9. However, in spite of this, every once in awhile you have just the best day where you just can’t believe how lucky we are to have such a great way to make our living. Saturday, in the Old Town Chicago shop was just such a day. As owners, with many, many behinds the scenes things we must do, we don’t work the floor as often as we would like. Note to self – work the floor on Saturdays, it is the most fulfilling way to remember how much you love this business!  Pictured here, a very enthusiastic chef Jeff Mauro buying all sorts of spices for his new restaurant Jam, which will be at 937 North Damen. While we can not tell you about the food, as it is just about to open, Jeff is using top notch spices so we certainly foresee a commitment to quality! Can’t wait to check it out. Next, we are thrilled to wait on several International customers.

30th anniversary 7.12.09 078 Here Tom and a customer look at the area she is from on our globe, Guerande, France, which is where we get our grey sea salt from. She talks about the salt ponds and how the French use the salt a little differently than we do. Super interesting conversation. Next Tom waits on a customer from India – obviously an interesting conversation is always going to ensue when you are talking to someone from the land of spices. Any Indian person shopping in our store can talk cooking with spices all day long, they really know their suff. A little later, I wait on a customer that lives in Latvia. He visits his family in Chicago once a year and is buying 4 big bottles of  seasoning to take home as he claims to be addicted! Anther customer from Arizona tells me she almost had a panic attack when she thought she was going to run out of Lake Shore Drive seasoning before she got back to Chicago. I also take care of several local couples that have never been in the shop before who tell me that this is just THE COOLEST shop.

30th anniversary 7.12.09 034 There is a company called Chicago Food Planet Tours They do culinary walking tours of about three miles, really a fun way to see Chicago, and they bring their groups into our little back garden. If we can, Tom and I do the short presentations, because people really like to meet “the owner”. Today, there are FIVE tours passing through and we manage, in between customers in a super busy shop to do all five of the presentations. They are not allowed to shop as there is not enough time on a three hour tour. They are given coupons for a discount should they come back to shop. Tom and I are astounded today when at least half of them come back to shop later in the day. The cash register keeps ringing, hooray, a big chunk of our rent is getting paid today!

Imagine owning a little shop where both local people and customers from all over the world drop in and buy your product and tell you how much they love it. AND, you get to work with the person you love all day. We are SO lucky. I can only tell you that if I was a dog, my tail would have been wagging non-stop all day long!

Spice Boss’ Top Three

People always ask about my top blends and seasonings. For me, Bronzeville Rib Rub is number one. My father-in-law created this seasoning at the original spice shop, located at 33rd Street and Galena in Milwaukee….

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Thanks to Clare Barboza for mixing up Moroccan Carrot Salad in this delicious video. See much more from Clare on her beautiful site:

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