Allison Turner founded her custom charcuterie box business, Sweet & Savoury Grazing Co. with the idea of earning a little extra cash. “I’d just gotten a dog, so I hoped to earn $500 a month, for if she ever needed to go to the vet,” says the new entrepreneur.
Turner had always had an artistic flair, and she frequently made charcuterie boards for her mother when they had guests over, or if they were bringing something for a potluck. “The idea actually came from her; she said, ‘Hey, you have a knack for charcuterie boards. Why don’t you post on Facebook and see what happens?’” Turner explains.
She started posting her charcuterie boxes in December 2020 and took several orders for Christmas. Things were slow after the holidays, however, until she posted on a local food review Facebook group, Eat, Thunder Bay. “That original post got over 120 comments on it. It really took off from there and I have Eat, Thunder Bay to thank,” Turner says.
Sweet and Savoury Grazing Co. offers fully customizable charcuterie boxes for any taste. “We let customers go through entire lists of ingredients, and pick out exactly what they want,” she says. “If you’re buying a charcuterie box, they’re not cheap, they’re pretty pricey, so you want everything in that box that you like.”
Turner has a nine-to-five job so her mother, Christine Stewart, is her business partner and handles a lot of the administrative work and helps with prep as well. They take pride in making all the boards fresh, within two or three hours of pickup at their house.
Buying local is also a foundational principle. “With every single product, if there’s a local alternative, I will do that,” Turner says firmly. "Not only am I supporting other local businesses that are also going through the pandemic, when you buy local, you make those connections in town, and it helps spread the word for your business.”
She gets most of her fruit at Valley Fresh. “They will go through every single cherry, to make sure it’s the right firmness. And that takes time. But when you buy local, that’s what you get; you get that quality and service,” she explains. “And I don’t end up throwing out half the cherries I bought, because when you buy at Metro, you can’t feel them all.”
The list of local businesses that she buys from is long, and includes the Maltese Grocery, the Commissary, Thunder Oak Cheese Farm, Gott Cupcakes, and Soul Cookie.
Turner is working on a website for her business, and is also planning to move into the Goods and Co. Market in the former Eaton’s Center building when it opens this fall. “It’s happening really fast, it’s surreal,” she says.
At this point, Turner can afford to keep multiple dogs. “It was supposed to be a very low-stress second job. The tables have kind of turned on that,” she laughs.