Garlic and Oil

30 Oct 2019 | 04:22

A customer left Garlic and Oil with a gift for a friend, but later returned to the store after she couldn't stop thinking about Garlic & Oil's pear flavored balsamic vinegar. Owner Kathryn Kaplan didn't just sell the woman vinegar: first he took her to the tasting bar and had her sample it in a certain fashion to ensure she liked the flavor.

The oil and vinegar tasting bar is one of the things that has underscored the longevity of Garlic and Oil, which has been in business since 2001. The store nearly ceased to exist when the business lost its lease at its original location in Upper Lake Plaza.

“I closed down for nine months with no plans to reopen,” Kaplan said. “Then this spot became available. It was the best thing that ever happened to me and I reopened.

Thanks to the prime location along with the insistence of her customers, Garlic and Oil thrives. Its hallmark is, and always has been, carrying unusual ingredients and extraordinary gifts.

“I had been in the corporate world for years and commuted from Sparta to the city,” Kaplan said. “I have also always loved to cook and entertain so would bring the ingredients from the city.”

When her job was absorbed into the company, Kaplan knew two things: she wasn't leaving Sparta and she was done with commuting. Why not bring a specialty food and gift shop to town?

She surrounded herself with excellent staff, many of whom have been with her for 10-15 years, and Garlic & Oil was born.

“Why I am here today is because of an incredibly talented and loyal team,” she said.

Kaplan said that her most popular items are something tried and true and something new.

“We recently brought in a Get Personal section to the store," she said. "Items can be personalized within 24 hours with initials, a saying, etcetera.”

These items include cutting boards, signs, frames and more.

Two years ago, Kaplan opened Ava & Jack next door to Garlic and Oil.

“I had been looking for a baby gift and there was nothing around except the big box stores or to order on line,” she said. “What was I to do but open a store that specializes in children's clothes up to 5T, grandma gifts, mom and dad gifts and great shower gifts.”

A speed bump that nearly impacted both of Kaplan's stores and others in White Deer Plaza recently was the threat of parking being rescinded at Lake Mohawk Country Club. There's limited parking within the plaza.

“The town voted on an ordinance and Lake Mohawk Country Club will transition the lot into paid parking,” Kaplan said. “The White Deer Business Association, country club and town worked really well on this. The parking fee will be minimal and most likely people will be able to get their parking validated at the local shops.”

“After nearly 20 years in business, the only thing I know is I don't know anything,” Kaplan laughed. “Sometimes you bring in a product and it sells out immediately so you order eight more and they just sit. We are well-known for our staples and for having great gifts and appreciate the support of the community.”

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