~story and photo by Paige Langenderfer
With just one whiff of their spices, the Nashville Spice Company can transport you to your grandmother’s kitchen, a café in Tuscany, or even to a dinner table in Ethiopia. The 375 spices available for purchase circle the globe, offering a diverse palette of tastes for professional and aspiring chefs.
Greg Fox and Mark Schmidt opened the store, located at 58 East Main Street on the alley beside the courthouse in Nashville, in May of 2017 as a reflection of their passion for cooking and trying new flavors.
“We have traveled a lot and have become what you might call ‘foodies,’” Schmidt said. “We wanted to invest in the community because they have been so welcoming to us…so the spice shop was a perfect fit.”
The first step in the business plan was to find a spice merchant and bottling company. Fox and Schmidt located a long-time spice expert in Pennsylvania who sources spices from around the world, hand blends his own spices and bottles the product—all in the same facility.
“This gives us the ability to give our customers the absolute freshest product available and the ability to offer a huge variety,” Fox said. “The fact that it all comes from one source was very important to us. At the grocery store you have no idea how old the spices are, and they likely traveled to many facilities before landing on the shelf at the local store. We know our product is fresh, non-GMO and contains no MSG, gluten or fillers.”
The shelves are filled with every spice and blend you can imagine, from the pantry basics to blends from France, Japan, Israel, Syria, Thailand, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Yucatan, and even a Native American blend.
There are at least 20 barbecue blends, 12 Mexican spice blends, six seafood blends, 10 curry blends, 7 types of peppercorn, and three types of cinnamon. Schmidt says the most unique products include a rare French pepper called Pimente d’Espelette, and African long pepper.
“We filled the store with spices and blends we were interested in,” Schmidt said. “Since opening, we have more than doubled the number of spices we offer, just by adding products people ask for and by learning about new spices.”
One of the most important and interesting parts of the business, Fox said, is learning about the products.
“We make sure we’ve learned and studied everything we sell, it’s one of the things we pride ourselves in,” he said. “A big part of our business is education. Educating customers adds to their experience. We offer tastings on the weekends to give customers a chance to taste the spices. That’s the fun of food, it’s all about the experience.”
Customers from across the region regularly visit the store for the fresh, diverse products, Schmidt said.
“There is a group from Chicago that drives four hours just to come to our store. They call it the pilgrimage,” Schmidt said. “How cool is that?”
Barbecue contestants often feature Nashville Spice Company spices in their entries, and students studying culinary arts at Ivy Tech in Columbus use the spices in class.
“I think people really appreciate the variety and freshness that we offer,” Schmidt said.
To their delight, the store is thriving, having been named the Brown County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in 2017 and winning a Bloomie Award in 2018 from Bloom Magazine.
“We have our land legs and now it’s about thoughtful growth and product expansion,” Fox said. “We absolutely love our customers and are excited about where the future will take us.”
To learn more about the Nashville Spice Company, visit <facebook.com/nashvillespicecompany> or <nashvillespicecompany.com>.