Listening to Clients: The Ground Rosemary Story

” I love Halifax, but it lacked a good spice store. Now that I know you are here, Halifax is perfect.”

So, we listen. We listen really well. Our clients at the markets we have attended have blessed us with as much information as we have provided them. As Chris says, “We started with 19 items, and are now at over 90, due mainly to the recommendations of our customers.”

One of my favourite client relationships is with a fellow I will call Will. Will dropped by one day and started his story: friends of his had given him some of our products as a gift. He told me he travels for business sometimes and whenever he is in a new city, he searches out the spice stores. Will, loves to cook. He tells me, that he loves Halifax, but it has always lacked a decent source of top-shelf spices. He looks around the modest surroundings of the Alderney Market and says, “I guess I am going to have to come here, now.”

Will continues after he surveys our product display, “I have 16 spices in my cupboard and you carry 14 of them.” I asked, “Tell me one of the two that we don’t have.” And then I listened.

With no thought required, Will said, “Ground Rosemary”. I sighed and said, yes we can source Organic Ground Rosemary, but I couldn’t figure out what I would use it for. Will becomes a bit excited and tells me that he makes his own pizza from scratch on Friday nights and he uses ground rosemary in the crust.

Our eyes locked and my jaw slackened. “I will bring it in.” All I could think about was pizza crust that tasted like focaccia. I didn’t know Will’s name. He, like many memorable clients, was first referred to by Chris and I by their signature product. Yes, I referred to Will as “Ground Rosemary” with Chris for over a year, until I took the opportunity to ask him his name.

Since that time, Will’s creativity inspired me to look at places I loved rosemary, but where a full leaf would not work. I have used ground rosemary in…wait…mashed potatoes. I love roasted potatoes with rosemary leaves and garlic, but my daughter likes mashed. And with oven roasted garlic and some ground rosemary, you can have the same flavour profile in a mashed potato. You are welcome. Our ground rosemary is, of course, organically grown (for those of you who aren’t into ingesting chemical fertilizers and pesticides) and comes in a small package that fits in our small storage box, for efficient purchasing and storage.

I love it when Will drops by. He’s an authentic person, and the world needs more of that. Around August last year, we bumped into each other at a grocery store, smiled and talked about some serious stuff on both our sides. It was one of those talks where other customers give you the look that “this isn’t Tim Horton’s” as they pass and you feel like you have lost 5 pounds; maybe water weight, maybe emotional weight, but you are lighter. We wished each other and our families well. At Christmas, Will dropped by to follow up on our discussion and tell me that things were well. I was touched he remembered our talk. He presented me with a jar of jelly that he and his family make every year. I can’t say I was successful in not crying.

In February, Will dropped in and we had a short chat. I remembered to ask about spice 16. I recounted our first discussion…almost word for word…that may have weirded him out…remembering a discussion from about two years ago. I ended it with, “So, Will, what is the last spice. The only one we don’t carry?” He quickly responded, “Whole Fennel Seed”. I smiled, “We just brought it in.” He smiled and I sold him a bag. Turns out, he uses that in the pizza crust, too.

The next time you are around the Alderney Market in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on a Saturday, drop by and ask, “Where can I find L.O.V.E.?” and tell us about your favourite herb or spice. We are listening.

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