By: Tula Mason
Photos By: Josh Triggs
WHEN I ASKED business owner Laurah Miller how she came up with the name The Naked Olive, she stated with amusement that the name was settled on over much conversation and many martini’s. As for the logo, which pictures an olive looking both naked and embarrassed, it represents that the merchandise carried in the shop is pure. With this questions answered, our conversation moved on to what inspired her to open a shop centered on oils and vinegars.
To this she answered that during a trip to a self-defense show she had a flat tire. While killing time waiting for her car to be repaired, she happened upon a tiny shop that really peaked her interest to with this, what could have been unfortunate circumstance, turned into a dream. The Naked Olive was born. Don’t let the modest name fool you, this place has everything flavorful. Whether you love to cook or just love to eat, this shop that can only be described as rustic-chic, is the place for you.
This specialty grocery store located at 87 N Washington Street in downtown Berkeley Springs, WV, truly caters to everyone. No matter if your taste or cooking style is simple or leans more towards the refined style side, you are sure to find high quality edibles that will tickle your taste buds. From the wide assortment of extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars to a lovely assortments of salsas, jams and spreads this quaint shop offers just about anything that your culinary heart desires, right down to the fresh breads/and tasty fine chocolates they carry.
The Naked Olive boasts more than 50 flavors of the finest extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) and balsamic vinegars from around the world, each one hand selected by Laurah and available on tap for tasting. If you find something you like, just choosing the size bottle that suits your needs and it will be hand filled and sealed just for you!
As the name of the store implies you guessed it, they also carry gourmet stuffed olives. These plump beauties are available in four fabulous flavors and look divine, they even have vermouth-soaked olives if you want some with a kick. Like wise, there are many other products to choose from that you may not expect to see, such as Handcrafted Bourbon Barrel sauces with fun sayings like, “Eat your Bourbon”, and catchy names like “Kentuckyaki” printed on the labels. I must admit that this witty packaging makes me want to give them a try myself. You will also find a yummy selection of Bourbon Barrel Handcrafted spices that include Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt, Bourbon Smoked Pepper, and Bourbon Smoked Citrus Pepper. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a barbeque!
How about “Terrapin Ridge Farms” hot pepper bacon jam? This stuff must be good because they have already brought it back by popular demands. They offer locally made honey, available for tasting. And seriously folks, you must try the delicious “My Buddy’s Nuts”. You can even find a lovely array of handmade Wooden Cutting boards. The Naked Olive and Sarah Grove have teamed up to create their own new line of olive oil soaps. This exciting new products line will be available in about 90 days as it is curing until then.
Behind every successful woman is a loving and supportive man. Laurah’s husband Irv Miller, who is a Criminal Records Specialist at the WV Supreme Court of Appeals, is credited for all of his hard work and dedication in helping to get this shop ready for its soft opening that took place May 14, 2016. This opening clearly was a great success as during my visit and subsequent interview today, patrons began waiting at the door even before the shop was opened. A steady stream of customers, some repeat, continued to file in and to the best of my knowledge none of them left the shop empty handed. Not bad for a business that has only been up and running for only 9 weeks. As if the wonders of The Naked Olive establishment weren’t enough, wedding favors, classes, and private parties are also offered upon request.
For those who are from out of town, they also offer shipping anywhere in the US. Given her love of community, the shop gladly participates in fundraisers as well.
Best friend Lisa Victoria has described Laurah as a highly inspirational woman who is world traveled and has expansive taste. Lisa Victoria, who is an accomplished artist in her own right, refers to her as a “Culinary Artista”. She puts flavors together to make works of art for your mouth, stated Lisa. What high praise from the owner of Victoria Art Gallery, located in New Orleans popular French Quarters. It is her artwork that will grace the walls of the Martini and Wine tasting room that is set to open some time in August. I was treated to a sneak peak of what’s to come and may I say “WOW”. This new addition to The Naked Olive is located behind the sliding pocket doors at the rear of the store. It promises to delight us with beautiful high-end art, amazing finishes and décor, as well as lite fair foods and refreshing spirits to wash them down. Should an art piece strike your fancy, you can always buy it and take it home to enjoy, as they will be available for purchase.
Laurah is no stranger to the demands of running a self-made business. She and her husband Irv (Jay) Miller have been the respected owners and operators of “J & L Self Defense Products, Inc.” since 1991. This mail order company is one of the most highly respected in the self-defense industry. I am sure that this is due to their high standards for both safety and customer satisfaction. In fact, the couple is so committed to the quality of these products that they actually do “real” product testing on all of the products. Laurah and her husband have traveled the country and even the world extensively to share their skills and expertise of self defense with those in need. Laurah’s generosity and kindness of spirit can also be readily seen at The Naked Olive, where you can be assured that her business will be the first on the block to donate to a worthy cause. Laurah is always eager to lend a hand to her community.
During the time I spent with her, I must say that I was struck by Laurah’s obvious love of people. She honestly treats everyone with the utmost level of kindness and respect. As soon as you walk in the door she makes you feel like the most important person in the room – this is no small feat when you realize that you are only one of many patrons in the shop. It is her wish to promote a pleasant and relaxing experience at The Naked Olive and she has most certainly accomplished this. Laurah stated that she saw a need for something new with a touch of class in the downtown area and well, here it is. You can tell by her palpable excitement and dedication to this unique and charming business that she has found her passion. So if you should find yourself in the Berkeley Springs area, I urge all of you to stop in and see this for yourselves. I promise that you won’t be disappointed. The Naked Olive truly brings a welcomed touch of class and taste to the downtown experience.