The newest shop on Main Street is bringing all kinds of premium olive oils, balsamics, spices and other gourmet foods to downtown Marion’s North Block.
Located at 19 N. Main St., Flavors on Main is a shop unlike any other in Marion. Within this small store there are shelves lined with numerous spices and seasonings, loose leaf teas, imported Italian pasta, sauces, olives, local honey and more.
Owners Doug Watson and his wife Debbie are bringing their passion for good food and international flavors to Marion’s Main Street. Flavors on Main has the look and feel of something you would find in Italy or maybe someplace closer to home like Biltmore Village.
Flavors on Main had its opening day on Saturday during the Carolina Donut Festival. Throughout the festival, crowds poured into the new shop and saw first-hand what this new business has to offer.
For the Watsons, this is what they have strived for during all the work of preparation.
“I want to walk people through the store and show them what we have,” said Doug. “You don’t expect to see something like this in Marion.”
What they have includes 24 different flavored oils and balsamics along with three single varietals of extra virgin olive oils.
Their olive oil and balsamic supplier is Veronica Foods of Oakland, Calif.
“They required us to come out for a day of training before they allowed us to become a vendor,” said Debbie.
While in Oakland, the Watsons learned about the health benefits of the premium extra virgin olive oils supplied by Veronica Foods.
All of the bottles of olive oil and balsamics, along with many other items, are stamped with the name and logo of Flavors on Main as if it was a national brand. But the Watsons said they are focused on bringing something of quality that local residents can appreciate.
“We are not a franchise,” said Doug. “We want this to be a homegrown store. We don’t want someone else dictate what they want the store to be. We want the customers to dictate what the store should be.”
Customers are free to sample the many flavors of olive oil and balsamics. You can purchase a bottle of a specific oil and after it is empty, wash it out and bring it back for a refill.
The Watsons are also proud of their partnership with Marcelli Formaggi, which is an importer of organic farmstead cheese and specialty products from Abruzzo, Italy. The products from this family-owned import company have received rave reviews from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Food & Wine magazine and Bon Appétit magazine.
Owner Christina Marcelli traveled to Marion from her office in New Jersey to assist the Watsons with the opening of Flavors on Main. She was there Saturday, April 21 for the opening day during the Carolina Donut Festival.
“I have a family business with my older brother and our parents,” said Marcelli to The McDowell News. “We import exclusively from Italy, which is where our ancestral family is from. We work with small family producers from that area who produce the region’s best bronze cut pasta, mountain honey, olive wood, farmstead cheese and gluten-free products.
“We work with New York City’s best chefs and restaurants and are absolutely thrilled to be working with Doug and Debbie in their new venture. I am the owner of my company and their supplier for those specific products that I mentioned. The pasta that they are carrying has been in Food & Wine and Bon Appétit magazines. The pasta was a unanimous winner by the Bon Appétit judges in their taste contest. The honey is an award winner as well. The fact they are choosing to work with us says something about the quality of their selection and them as people.”
On a series of shelves, you will find 160 different kinds of spices, seasonings and blends that can be used for adding flavors to fish, seafood, beef, chicken, pork and vegetables. The spices and seasonings available at Flavors on Main will have organic options, salt-free options and kosher options. The shop has flavors from all over the world like curry and cumin.
On another series of shelves, Flavors on Main has 45 different loose leaf teas, tea pots and brewing accessories. You can find local honey there from Forever Found Farm in Marion.
The couple said they will look at other product lines to add in the future, which may include raw milk cheeses from Italy.
Doug and Debbie Watson said they want their shop to not only provide customers with ingredients for better tasting food but healthier ingredients as well.
“We’re really excited about bringing healthier products here,” said Debbie.
“We’re excited about working with the diabetes program at the Corpening YMCA because my father was a diabetic for 40 years,” said Doug.
Doug and Debbie Watson had never done anything like this before. Doug has a background in finance while Debbie has a marketing background. Both of them grew up in McDowell County and wanted to give something back to this community.
“I left the corporate world to move back to McDowell County for the quality of life and to be closer to family,” said Doug. “We both have a passion for cooking and flavoring things. We can’t pass an olive oil, vinegar and spice store and without going and spending an hour. We also saw a big gap in this town for a place like this.”
Like many local residents, they would go to shops like this in Asheville, Black Mountain and Charlotte.
“We thought there would be more people like us here who were going out of town to buy products like this like we were doing,” said Debbie.
So the couple thought it was time for Marion to have a shop like Flavors on Main. They invested a lot of time, money and effort to make it happen.
“Our goal is to deliver the highest quality product at a price people can afford,” said Doug.
Flavors on Main will be open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The shop will be open after 5 p.m. on weekdays so customers can check it out after work. They are looking at adding an online ordering section to their web site.
Doug and Debbie Watson said they appreciate the help and support of McDowell Chamber Director Steve Bush, Marion Business Association Director Freddie Killough, City Manager Bob Boyette and City Planning Director Heather Cotton.
As part of the North Block, Flavors on Main is located in the same section as Burrito Bros., Refinery 13, Ingenious Coffee Roasters, the Crooked Door Coffee House, Sun Kissed Tanning, Mica Town Brewing, the Big Orange Hoagie Factory and Earth and Soul Studio.
And like many of these businesses, Flavors on Main will have an attractive metal sign made by Turtle Laboratories.
“We’re extremely excited about what Marion is becoming,” said Doug. “We want to be a part of this Renaissance.”
For more information, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/flavorsonmain/