Green Bay Olive Oil Co. fueled with passion
By Heather Graves
ASHWAUBENON – Two-peas-in-a-pod, one-in-the-same, soul sisters.
Whatever the phrase used to describe them, Kari Trzinski and Heidi Lemke, co-owners of Green Bay Olive Oil Company, believe their partnership was meant to be.
“It truly was meant to be,” Lemke said. “I call Kari my work wife. We keep each other level. It’s been very passion-driven.”
What started out as Trzinski’s dream – Good Fats Olive Oil Company, an e-commerce olive oil business – has evolved into a partnership now dubbed Green Bay Olive Oil Co. and that takes up shop at 2605 S. Oneida St., Suite 104.
The last nine months have been a whirlwind for this dynamic duo.
Lemke and Trzinski met last fall at a church retreat.
“We realized we were kindred spirits,” Trzinski said. “I loved her passion.”
The concept for the store was realized in November 2018. They became official partners in January 2019, signed the lease in March and opened the doors in June.
“We’ve become like family,” Lemke said. “We fight like sisters, we cry like sisters, we laugh like sisters.”
The store is focused around the needs and wants of the customer.
Lemke and Trzinski believe customers should be able to try before they buy – their Flavor Tap Tasting Bar allows for just that.
The testing bar gives customers the opportunity to try any of the store’s 33 flavors of oils, balsamics and pantry items.
“We wanted to make it so people could come and just sit and try as many flavors as they’d like,” Lemke said. “Everyone has an experience when they come here.”
The products at Green Bay Olive Oil Co. are customer-driven.
“All of our consumers have chosen what we carry, what flavors we offer, where they come from, the suggestion cards – all of it comes from the consumer,” Lemke said.
Lemke and Trzinski’s excitement and passion for olive oil and their business is apparent.
They jump at the chance to show customers what they can do with their oils and balsamics – including marinades, mixed drinks, already prepared foods, non-alcoholic drinks, desserts, etc.
Every purchase comes with a suggestion card.
“The big joke about us is that Kari’s the cook in the business relationship and I’m the non-cook,” Lemke said. “That is why (our partnership) is so awesome. She can broaden things for people who can already cook, where I can come in to help with the non-cooks. That’s were we really complement each other.”
Green Bay Olive Oil Co. works directly with an importer and a botanist – so everything available at the store is plant-based.
From there, Trzinski and Lemke hand-bottle and label their product at an incubator kitchen – Brown County Culinary Kitchen at Curative Connections.
Trzinski and Lemke said the area is a great spot for their store because of the area’s wide-open demographic.
“Our product doesn’t have a demographic, so Ashwaubenon is a great fit,” Trzinski said. “The fact that we are in the heart of something that has a lot of traffic is great.”
A lot of thought went into the design of the brick and mortar store – lots of wood grains, black-outlines and an open concept design.
“Kari and I were very passionate about designing this place so that both men and women feel comfortable coming in,” Lemke said. “It isn’t geared toward one gender.”
The store’s open design makes it ideal for customers with strollers and wheelchairs.
“Parents love that they can shop, because their kids get a juice box and pretzels and popcorn,” Trzinski said.
Lemke and Trzinski said the public’s reaction to the store has been astounding – with a 20-percent growth over the first month.
“Once people find out about us and come in, we are very confident they will come back,” Lemke said. “Because we have a quality, great tasting product.”
So, what does the future hold for Green Bay Olive Oil Co.? Opening more stores is a hope of both Lemke and Trzinski, but in due time.
“We are very adamant about growing organically – very grassroots,” Trzinski said. “It’s really about the education. It takes a lot of effort to educate people about our products. So that was our biggest piece. Once that really gets going and we are a well-oiled machine, then we can blow the doors off and open more stores.”
The pair would also like to be on the front lines of launching CBD edibles – olive oils and cooking products in the area.
“That is something that is hopefully in the near future,” Trzinski said.
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday. Green Bay Olive Oil Co. can also be found at the Farmers Market on Broadway on Wednesdays and on Sundays at a farmers market in Bailey’s Harbor.
For more on Green Bay Olive Oil Co., visit gbooc.com.