The Blue Olive
Ever wonder what puts the extra virgin into olive oil? Blue OIive owners Beth and John Canevari know very well ... along with what it takes to create the highest quality olive oils, balsamic and wine vinegars and specialty cooking oils. Blue Olive is a specialty gourmet food shop and tasting room experience with two locations in New York’s Hudson Valley region. “We carry over 50 varieties of extra virgin olive oil, infused and fused with everything from white truffles to bourbon maple to chocolate,” says Beth. “People use our products to flavor all kinds of foods ... there’s even a balsamic cocktail,” adds John. The couple made some extreme career changes several years ago from the healthcare and marketing worlds to pursue their love for the specialty foods business.
In 2020, the state of New York mandated the closure of the Blue Olive stores due to COVID-19. “We were closed from March to June and had to run our business through ecommerce, curbside pickup and home delivery,” notes Beth. For a business that garnered 90% of its sales through in-store purchases, the shutdown was very stressful for the two entrepreneurs. The novel in-store experience of product sampling, education on food pairings and conversation with a sommelier-certified expert in extra virgin olive oil was no longer an option for customers. The Canevaris knew they needed financial help to keep their dream going.
“For a specialty retailer like Blue Olive, knowledgeable employees are hard to replace. Our KeyBank team was happy to help the Canevaris complete the PPP application process quickly to keep their experts on payroll throughout the pandemic shutdown.” – Irenee Paul, Area Retail Leader
The Canevaris’ CPA recommended they look into Paycheck Protection Program assistance, so they turned to their local KeyBank small business team to help them through the complex process. “We didn’t know where things were going and small businesses were closing right and left,” says John.
With their Payment Protection Program assistance secured, Blue Olive was able to keep all their employees’ home and paid through the nearly four-month shutdown. When the stores were permitted to reopen, the staff was able to pick up right where it left off.
John points out that being in a small town has its advantages, as his community went out of its way to support local businesses. And that community includes KeyBank, whose small business team is dedicated to helping neighboring establishments not just survive but thrive. “We want the temperament and wisdom of a hometown bank, and we get that with KeyBank,” says Beth.
The couple cites the scheduling flexibility and personal attention of their KeyBank team as something they did not find at other area banks. “At other places we felt like a number,” frowns Beth, “but our KeyBank people really got to know us and our business, and helped us get through all the paperwork, seamlessly.”
Thanks to help from their KeyBank team, the Canevaris were able to stay on pace with their business goals, which includes the opening of a third store soon. A tasteful experience is surely in store for the surrounding community.