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A tantalizing combination of cask-aged vinegars, cooking oils and spirits mingle and tempt customers shopping at Vom Fass in Des Moines. Melissa Bartholomew opened the store nearly a year ago.
“I was looking at different business opportunities when I came across Vom Fass, a German-based company,” she said. “I visited the flagship store in Madison, Wis., and instantly fell in love with the store, the concept and the quality of products. I thought it would be a great fit for the Des Moines market and pursued it.”
Business has been booming so far for Bartholomew, and the Christmas holiday season proved that her location in the Shops at Roosevelt area is beneficial.
“I love it,” she said. “We are near the cheese shop and bakery shop. This is a pretty destination for folks and being here allows me to offer cheese with wine tastings and baked goods for private events.”
Bartholomew spoke with the Register about her business and what the future holds.
Q: What products do you offer?
We have balsamic vinegars, wine vinegars, extra virgin olive oil, nut and seed oils, cooking oils; then our spirits side has single malt scotch, single malt Irish whiskey, burgundies, specialty liquors and a small selection of wines. One nice aspect about our shop is that it is based upon the European tradition of sampling before purchasing. People love the shopping experience. We can set you up with a spoon or a glass to sample things. We can do oil and vinegar pairings on a spoon and love to share ideas with customers as to what they can do with our products.
Q: Explain how you recycle.
People can bring back their clean and dry bottles for refills of oils and vinegars. We have different bottle shapes and sizes. We fill them in house and tamp it. People like that option.
Q: What classes do you offer?
We have cooking demonstrations and offer the same class twice a month. We bring in local guest chefs, and customers can come in and watch the food demonstration, sample what the chef is making, see what it pairs nicely with as far as a cocktail or a spirit.
We also have a lot of spirits classes; our scotch classes are pretty popular. We did an introduction to whiskey in January and a brandies class last fall. We did a cocktails class before the holidays, which was pretty well received.
There aren’t a lot of these types of classes in Des Moines and it offers a fun night out. We do charge for the classes, but it’s a nice chance for people to try the different products, check out the cheese and bread offerings from the cheese and bread shops. Since the classes fill up quickly, people need to reserve a spot. We also use the classroom to host private events. We can set up food for them to sample and offer a nice venue for a fun night.
Q: Do you have any competition?
The only thing close would be All Spice in the East Village with their oils and vinegars, but what makes us unique is ... that we offer liquors. It’s a one-stop shop for cooking and entertaining. Plus, there really isn’t anyone else with this concept. We love it when customers bring a friend from out of town or an acquaintance who hasn’t been here yet. It’s always fun to welcome new people.
Q: Who are your customers?
We see people who enjoy cooking and using quality ingredients to people who are scotch lovers who are having people over and want to entertain. We see all ages, from people in their 20s who want a really nice scotch, and the smaller sizes are at a price they can afford. We see just as many women as men, and we see women who love scotch and men who cook in the home. We have a nicely mixed demographic.
Source: Des Moines Register, February 19, 2013 Written by Kristin Danley-Greiner