GENEVA – For a decade, the Geneva Spice House at 577 S. Third St., in Geneva, sold every spice and combination imaginable, right down to pink Himalayan salt.
But after 10 years, co-owners John Cirpinski, his wife Ann Keen of St. Charles and Kevin Bozis of Chicago, ended their franchise with the Spice House, struck out on their own and are now sporting a new moniker, 360º Flavor & Spice.
“We’ve had a marketing agreement with the Spice House Corporation and that means we had to run all the same as all the other Spice Houses,” Cirpinski said. “Now we are our own company. It was time for us to be our own separate company and make our own decisions in terms of what we stock. We finally wanted to put our own blends up for sale.”
Market forces were also a factor, Cirpinski said, as wholesalers don’t want to sell to small distributors any more.
Instead, they want to sell whole pallets of spices – the equivalent of half a ton, Cirpinski said.
“They sell to the middleman and suddenly we’re paying retail for oregano. With spices, you have to keep them moving so they stay fresh,” Cirpinski said. “If they sit, they don’t sell.”
Being their own company allows them to search out different suppliers and explore other ways of blending spices that are more cost conscious, he said.
“We felt that now we can expand," Cirpinski said. "There are a lot of local purveyors who use our product – but we couldn’t sell their products in our store because we were a franchise and we could only sell their [franchise] products."
Local honey makers who use their spices to flavor their honey, could not have their product for sale in the store he said.
“It was not only the honey makers who wanted to sell from the store, but a hot sauce maker and local soda pop [maker],” Cirpinski said. “We can sell it in our store now. I’d also like us to get into coffees and teas.”
The change began in the middle of June when the annual contract would renew, he said.
They could not sell the proprietary Spice House blend, but by June 13, Cirpinski said they had 80 new blends of their own to start with.
“We have a lot of new flavors, like bourbon maple barbecue blend," Cirpinski said. "It’s a liquid bourbon flavor that is mixed into the spices and dried into a good flavor."
Another one is mocha mint sugar combined with espresso powder, cocoa and peppermint extract, he said.
“We’re using sharp flavors,” Cirpinski said. “I’ve been working with these spices almost 20 years so we have learned great ways for blending spices and taking a blend and adding.”
The store hosted a grand reopening Aug. 30 and as its official 10th anniversary comes on Nov. 17 – they don’t know if they will be doing anything special, Cirpinski said.
“We’re pretty busy in November … and we’re concentrating on our transition,” Cirpinski said. “We’ll have to look and see how we are in November.”
More information is available by calling 630-262-1777 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/360-Flavor-and-Spice.