Paul & Terri Karlsson / The Tree & Vine
It’s five years—and counting—of remarkably steady growth for The Tree & Vine.
“We were trying to eat healthier and were really bored with uninspired protein and vegetables. We came across an olive oil and balsamic store while on vacation in early 2011, and purchased several of the products. As we enjoyed using our newfound products to jazz up our food, I flippantly said, ‘I think I need one of these stores!’” Terri Karlsson is discussing the impetus behind her and husband Paul’s decision to start The Tree & Vine (TheTreeAndVine.com) in 2011 in Asheville’s Biltmore Village.
And from that simple DIY urge for artisanal foodstuffs, a business has blossomed, with locations in both Asheville and Knoxville, a warehouse, and even a companion business (premium pet product store CitiFid-O, also in Knoxville).
The Karlssons, incidentally, aren’t exactly business neophytes. Terri had a career with Norfolk Southern before becoming involved with nonprofits, while Paul is a retired Naval Aviator and a former global consultant for IBM; they have also had a cabinetry, remodeling, and residential general contracting business for several years. They moved to Western North Carolina in 2006 and operate a bed and breakfast apartment in their home in Pisgah Forest. As Terri puts it, mock-ruefully, “This was to be our ‘retirement home’—we are now busier than ever!”
In addition to selling and serving as a tasting shop for its signature olive oils and balsamics, The Tree & Vine offers teas and coffees, gourmet foods (everything from sauces, spices, and condiments, to jams, cheeses, and pasta), kitchenware, and bath/body products. “We are completely independent and source our own olive oils and balsamics from the growers,” notes Terri. “We have a personal relationship with our producers and even with many of the producers of our gourmet foods and kitchenware. We travel to the Mediterranean on a regular basis, and also offer an amazing culinary tour to a specific region in the Mediterranean for up to 14 travelers each year.”
The Tree & Vine’s product lines have clearly resonated with the public (also shop online at Thetreeandvine.com), with the company expanding to Knoxville in 2012, a mere year after the Asheville opening. Terri explains that they were recruited by developers in downtown Knoxville, who felt the store would be a good fit for the city’s urban revitalization. The warehouse followed in 2013 “so we could have better control over our supply chain”, as did the pet store in 2014. Last year saw a relocation of the Asheville store to Gerber Village.
“We originally opened in June of 2011,” says Terri. “We had decided against a franchise or a distributorship, so we researched and made contacts and figured out how to source and present the products on our own. [Then after] several years in Biltmore Village, we wanted a larger space in Asheville with better access and parking for our local clientele.”
She adds that with the Gerber Village store, which is well-positioned to take advantage of the current population boom extending along the Hendersonville Road corridor of South Asheville, their plans going forward will center on “increasing our visibility and message.”
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