LAKEWOOD RANCH — Before the owners of Katy Rose Oilery signed a lease for space on Lakewood Ranch Main Street, they checked out the retail action as vendors at the farmers market there.
The verdict: their high-quality extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world were “well received, with many repeat customers.”
Tuesday, Don and Gale Whitson-Schmidt announced they have signed a lease with Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty and will be moving into the space occupied by the recently closed Lakewood Ranch Booksellers.
They anticipate opening Sept. 4.
Customers will be able to taste the oil and vinegar products from fustis — stainless steel containers resembling large milk cans.
The products customers select will be bottled on the spot to preserve freshness and consistency.
For most of his career, Don Whitson-Schmidt worked as a computer consultant before running a deli in Wisconsin for six years.
It was in the deli business that the couple became acquainted with retailing olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
“There was a shop up there that was doing it, and I was watching how they did it. It was doing so well that I decided to get out of the deli business,” he said Tuesday.
“I figured I would open a store here, but I didn’t know where. I tried several markets and Lakewood Ranch was the best one,” he said.
Other products will be offered that complement the Mediterranean theme, including pasta, wines, and sauces.
Also offered will be soaps and lotions made from olive oil, bottles, gift baskets, napkins, fresh bread and cookbooks.
Leah Blair, a spokeswoman for LWR Communities, said she believes this is the first time that a Lakewood Ranch Main Street farmers market vendor has moved into permanent space on the street.
“They were pleased with the friends they made and could see the potential,” Blair said.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 708-7916.