By Amy Falkofske
If you’re looking for quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars you can’t get at the grocery store, look no further than Manassas Olive Oil Company in Old Town Manassas.
“One of our main things that we do is educate people about olive oil and balsamic vinegar, more so the olive oil because it has been an industry where there’s been so much adulteration to olive oil,” said store manager Emily Thomson.
Manassas Olive Oil Company’s oils come from around the world. Its extra virgin olive oils come most recently from Spain and Chile. The flavored olive oils come from Spain, Tunisia and sometimes Italy.
According to Emily, the quality and freshness of Manassas Olive Oil Company’s products make it unique.
“People can actually come in here and dual sample the olive oil and vinegar, so they can smell and taste the difference,” she said.
Family and Veteran Owned
Alex and Dolores Thomson, Emily’s parents, first got interested in olive oils while working in a small olive oil store in upstate New York. Alex cofounded Manassas Olive Oil Company with his daughter, Emily’s sister, Amanda Thomson, in 2014. The store opened in May of 2015. Emily herself is also part owner of the store.
“We wanted to sell something that was healthy, a product where we could educate people about the health benefits of it and a good quality olive oil,” said Emily.
The family chose Manassas as the store’s location for a couple of reasons.
“My sister and I live here in Manassas. Old Town’s really cute, and we thought it would be a good spot to have a store,” said Emily
Both Alex and Amanda are veterans. Alex is a Navy veteran, having served from 1976 to 1982. Amanda served in the Army from 2006 to 2015.
“We like to support our current military and veterans. We do a small discount for them. We’re also big on supporting other local businesses, so just having a small family feel, I think that’s kind of important,” said Emily.
Supporting Local Business
In addition to gourmet olive oils and vinegars, the store also carries a variety of other local items.
“We carry other products that are either regional or local to Virginia, so we have other food type products, like spice blends. We have hot sauces. We have eggs,” said Emily.
Many of their products make great gifts for the cooks in your life. Shoppers will find hot sauce from Henry’s Hot Sauce, which is made in the Shenandoah Valley. They also carry local honey — some of Amanda’s own, as she has her own beehives. The store also has spice blends from Dizzy Pig BBQ Supply in Manassas and
Fire Hook crackers, which are made in Chantilly.
“A lot of people cook with olive oil, so all these different things complement cooking and adding flavor to your food. We’re always trying different things,” said Emily.
More Than Olive Oil
In addition to the honey from Amanda’s beehives, every member of the Thomson family is represented in the store in a unique way. Dolores Thomson creates pottery. The store sells her dipping dishes, combo dishes and bowls.
Emily is an artist, so her paintings are hanging on the walls, giving the store an art gallery feel and calming atmosphere. “We try to have a calm vibe, a nice atmosphere, where people can come in and take their time looking around and tasting the oils and vinegars. We just want customers to have a good experience here and enjoy their time in the shop,” said Emily.
This atmosphere and the quality of products in the store have obviously resonated with local residents, as the store was voted Best Specialty Shop in the Best of Prince William 2020.
The Thomsons clearly share a love of their business, but they have another shared passion too: animals.
“We’re really big animal people, dogs and cats and everything. One thing we do is we like to sponsor animals from the animal shelters here, either the Prince William County shelter or the Manassas City shelter,” said Emily.
For the last two years, the store has been paying individual animals’ adoption fees and then spreading the word about those animals on their Facebook page to help the animal get adopted. “Helping animals is important to us,” said Emily.
Manassas Olive Oil Company is located at 9406 Grant Avenue in Old Town Plaza in Manassas. The store is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Amy Falkofske is a freelance writer and photographer. She has a Master’s degree in Film-TV with a concentration in screenwriting. She lives in Bristow with her husband, two boys and two Beagle dogs.