BY SUZANNAH COUCH
Three years ago, Greg Fox and Mark Schmidt moved from Carmel to the hills of southern Indiana because of their love for Brown County.
On Memorial Day weekend, Fox and Schmidt will open the Nashville Spice Company because of their love of food and spice blends.
Fox will retire as an executive with the Anthem health insurance company within the next two years, and he expects the Nashville Spice Company will keep him busy as he settles into retirement.
“I needed something to do, because I am not a good bored person,” Fox said.
Schmidt is an oil painter specializing in wildlife and contemporary landscapes, who uses a pallet knife instead of brushes. He has a studio in their Brown County home and shows his work at B3 Gallery on Van Buren Street.
They both describe themselves as “foodies” who love to travel.
In opening a spice shop, “we were looking at how do we combine both of our creative sides?” Schmidt said.
“There are a lot of towns like Nashville in the country that do have spice shops and they do really well,” Fox said. “We were looking at what isn’t here.”
They also wanted to open a shop that sells something Fox is passionate about.
“One thing he is really passionate about is food, and so we had sort of narrowed down, ‘What makes you really happy? What do you really enjoy doing?’ Spices kept being the thing — spices and cooking.”
The Nashville Spice Company will sell nearly 200 types of spices, rubs, spice blends, syrups, jams, honeys, sauces and marinades. It’ll also sell “mixology” ingredients and kits for alcoholic drinks and artisan ingredients like dried fruits and herbs.
Fox and Schmidt also will sell honey and extracts from a producer in Brown County, along with artisan marshmallows made by 240 Sweet in Columbus.
The jams will be in unique flavors, including bacon and clove — “not the strawberry and the orange and the grape. All that kind of stuff you see,” Fox said.
Spices will come from the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Asia, Italy, America, Colombia and Europe, Schmidt said. They’ll carry hard-to-find flavors such as tandoori, Turkish oregano, fenugreek seed and star anise, which is the shop’s symbol.
Fox said grocery store spices which go through the distribution process could be a couple of years old before they hit the shelves. He said theirs will be fresh; “we’ll be able to tell you when they were ground and blended.”
“Most spices, necessarily, don’t go bad, but they lose their flavor pretty quickly,” he said. “You really want to buy spices in smaller quantities and replenish it more often.”
On the sweet side, they also plan to sell chocolate sauces, brownie and cookie mixes, artisan crackers and chocolate bars from small companies.
In the future, Fox and Schmidt hope to have a refrigerator installed so that they can sell specialty cheeses and meats, and customers can create their own picnic baskets, bridal gifts and girls’ weekend packages.
Pre-packaged picnic baskets will be available when the shop opens.
Eventually, Fox and Schmidt would like to blend spices in the store, but that won’t happen until after Fox retires.
The two are also in talks with some local restaurants about doing some cross-promotion, like creating a meat rub the restaurant will use, which the spice company will sell.
For right now, the focus is on getting the shop up and running.
“We’ll be interested in catering to the needs of our customers. We’ll be very open to changing product based on what’s being asked for,” Fox said.
“We’d like to be the go-to place for customers looking for spices.”