James Mazzotta, Enjoy the Store
What's in Store
Enjoy: What was your original vision for the store?
James: It all started with, “Our products tell stories.” Our plan was to have a brick-and-mortar location for all the incredible artisans we talked about in the magazine to allow customers to be able to touch and see all of their products. It’s such a different experience when you can actually pick up a soap in your hand, smell it and feel the texture of it, rather than just reading someone’s words about it. It’s the difference between reading about locally produced music and hearing it with your own ears. It’s more about being able to experience a product yourself before you buy it.
We went to Phillips Brothers Mill and asked them to create some of their wooden boxes, known here at Enjoy the Store as crates, made using the oldest operational steam-driven sawmill in the country. We wanted something sweet to hold treasures for gifting to family members, friends and business associates. After all, gifting is a big part of what we do here. It’s a great way to share all of the amazing agriculture and artisan-made wares. Initially, we had three crate sizes – the small, medium and large. Since then, we’ve added a flat rate (if it fits, it ships!), the pie box and our newest addition to the family, the recipe box.
Enjoy: How has it changed over the past six years?
James: The biggest change is the number of products we are able to showcase in the store. When the recession hit, many people lost their jobs and found themselves looking for something to fill the void. It prompted some of the vendors to return to their creative roots, to work in mediums that are part of their family histories. If there is one thing about creative people, it’s that they know how to take lemons and make lemonade.
We’ve expanded our selection by offering a number of the products people have come in asking about or that we discover. For example, on one of our trips to the coast, we discovered Dick Taylor Chocolates. Dustin Taylor and Adam Dick were wood boat builders who moved into making artisan chocolate. They explain that the time and care required for fitting a mortice or shaping a plank is not unlike the process of hand-crafting chocolate from the bean. They also live an artisan lifestyle by playing bluegrass/folk music. We carry their chocolate bars, drinking chocolate and CDs.
We’ve tried to establish a few more “sections” in the store, like the “honey hutch” with all things bees – not just honey, but beeswax candles and more. We’ve expanded our olive oil and balsamic vinegar selections, and we are expanding the offerings within some of our product lines.
Enjoy: Tell us a bit about what the store is like today.
James: Wow! It’s hard to believe we opened our doors six years ago. The store is jam packed full of goodies. We have more than 1,000 vendors now. We weren’t sure we would have enough when we started, but the incredible talent in the area has afforded us the opportunity to fill it to the brim with local treasures. Every day when I walk into the store, I’m inspired by the creativity of people here in the North State. We’ve expanded a couple times within the space we have, nearly quadrupling the space we started with, which, of course, means stealing more and more space from the magazine offices.
Enjoy: Are there any big changes planned in the near (or far) future?
James: We would love to expand our space and offer selections of larger items, like furniture. But that’s probably a bit down the road. We’ve got plans to expand our Enjoy-branded products. New ideas are always formulating in our heads, but with a lean crew, it sometimes takes a little time to get these great ideas to materialize.
Enjoy: Why do people love Enjoy the Store?
James: They love supporting local businesses and local artisans, knowing that their money stays local. They love knowing where the items they’re purchasing come from and a bit of the history behind those who made it. And there are just so many wonderful things to see, like the huge eight-foot Ferris wheel puzzle or the beautiful wooden bar. It’s really a nice break from the world to come in and explore. Of course, they love the warmth and interaction from the staff. Our staff knows so much about the products and the vendors that create them, and they take the time to make your experience enjoyable.
Hand lettered “six” banner by Lion and Lamb Co.
6” caramel drip birthday cake by Cupcakes for the Kingdom