By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
COVINGTON – When Pemmie Sheasby spent 30 years as an advertising executive with the Bell telephone system, she was among the best the company had ever seen.
Sheasby started at the bottom for South Central Bell when she answered a newspaper ad to sell advertising. Within a matter of years the company had promoted her to head their regional sales force and had her traveling all over the U.S., finally being promoted to direct the business side of the company that had expanded to South Africa.
So after Sheasby retired from Bell in 2001, settling on the North Shore of St. Tammany Parish with her husband after they had raised seven children, she took some time off and began looking into her own business venture.
Considering her insistence for excellence in her previous business career, it was probably no surprise that Sheasby was sold on the Oil & Vinegar franchise opportunity. She had found a company that started in the Netherlands and prides itself on the highest-quality taste and experience in the rapidly expanding oil and vinegar store market that is sweeping the country.
Sheasby is now in her second year with Oil & Vinegar, located in the Colonial Pinnacle Shopping Center in Covington.
“I was considering several business opportunities and had dabbled in olive oil as a hobby. I was buying different kinds and learning about the industry. It was like wine was in the 70s—the cutting edge business that a lot of people are interested in,” she said.
As she researched different businesses, she was drawn to the oil and vinegar explosion across the country. The decisive point for her was walking into a true Oil & Vinegar store in Spokane, Washington.
“When I saw what they did in that store, it was it for me,” she said. “I knew this was the company I wanted to work with.”
While there are a growing number of companies selling and promoting the growing interest in olive oils and vinegars, Sheasby said that Oil & Vinegar is not only different, but determined to be the best in the world.
“This company is set apart because we have such a wide variety of product lines, and you can sample almost everything we have in the store,” she said.
Just walking in the Oil & Vinegar store in Covington has the feel of being in a European market place. There are 36 varieties of flavored oils and vinegars in large Amphoras on the wall, each one treated with UV coating so the sunlight does not affect the quality.
“Amphoras are the modern version of the old clay pots they kept the oils and vinegars in,” Sheasby said.
But that is just the opening display. As you move along the side wall, there are many more samples of private estate oils from 12 different countries.
“We keep vinegars closer to the window since they are not affected by sunlight, but our Amphoras are treated to protect the olive oils,” Sheasby said. “When you taste different kinds, you purchase a small bottle for your first time, then return with that bottle from then on and get it refilled.”
Sheasby and several of her daughters, who work in the store with her, have become quite the experts on olive oils and Balsamic vinegars, which have serial numbers to authenticate age and quality.
As if the incredible variety of products in the store is not enough, Sheasby said they do their best to make every visit an experience their “guests” will not forget.
“Our goal is to welcome everyone, get them to taste as much as they want, and teach them about oils and vinegars,” she said. “And we consider these our ‘guests,’ not ‘customers.’”
Sheasby said that 98 percent of the products they offer are from Europe. And they have a multitude of products that are made with different olive oils and vinegars, such as salad dressing, vegetables, spreads, herbs, spices, pasta, sauces and more.
“When I learned about this company, I knew it was for me,” she added. “I love the quality of what we offer and we enjoy teaching others about it.”
Originally from New Orleans, Sheasby said she went to college planning to become a nurse, only to start a summer job with South Central Bell that turned into a 30-year career.
As Oil & Vinegar is building its clientele, Sheasby said she is planning to begin hosting chef series’ for home cooks, as well as bringing in experienced chefs to teach at her seminars.
More information on the local company can be found at Louisiana.oilandvinegarusa.com or by visiting the store in the Colonial Pinnacle mall, off Hwy. 22 in Covington.