Winner: Allspicery, 2015

Heather-Wong-headshot-SQUARE_nicholaswrayMeet Heather Wong, owner of Allspicery, first-time entrepreneur, and winner of the 2015 Calling All Dreamers Competition.

Describe the Allspicery experience.
Allspicery will be the city’s very first one-stop spice shop!  We will carry over 300 spices, teas, salts and house-made spice blends from around the world.  The store will offer a true sensory experience with sampling jars that will allow customers to smell and taste the products, and people will be able to buy as much or as little as they need.

As a food enthusiast, I have always loved the fact that Sacramento is the “farm to fork capital.”  The Allspicery will now allow everyone – from the novice home cook to the professional chef – to make the most of their ingredients by offering a wide array of fresh, unique and affordable flavors from around the world.

Oval Allspicery

What inspired you to start your own business?
My spice shop business concept has grown out of a lifelong passion for exploring new cuisines and flavors. I am an avid traveler, having visited more than 40 countries, and almost always make a point of “acclimating” abroad by going to the local market. As our friends and family can attest, my husband and I often bring flavors from our travels back home – not only in the form of exotic home-cooked meals, but also as seasonal gifts. Over the years, we’ve gifted items such as homemade Kalhua, Thai curry powder (ground in small batches in our tiny coffee bean grinder!), mulling spices, granola and hot chocolate mixes.

Enthusiasm for flavors aside, my interest in opening a spice shop has grown most notably during my time in Sacramento. We obviously have access to some of the best produce and meats in the country, but I quickly noticed that there is no “one-stop” spice shop in the downtown area (or, for that matter, in the surrounding ones either), which can sometimes put a damper on my meal plans. Not only that, but virtually every Sacramentan I talk to about my idea is immediately excited about it and confirms that they would be among the first customers.

Over time, my pie-in-the-sky “dream” has evolved into the Allspicery concept, which would be the first one-stop spice shop in the city. It will offer a curated selection of spices, teas, proprietary house made spice blends  sourced from around the world. The goods sold will include commonplace spices as well as obscure, hard-to-find ingredients. Spices will be sold whole or freshly ground in-house, making the shop a veritable candy store for foodies!

What is special about Downtown that made you want to open a business here?
Sacramento is special in that it is a city rich in history, but also one that is currently going through a period of rapid change and urban development. The city has a vibrant farm-to-fork foodie culture, and the impending King’s arena is poised to revitalize Downtown and bring even more retail business. The establishment of Allspicery in the bustling downtown area will not only highlight Sacramento’s foodie scene, but further elevate the city’s cultural standing in the years to come.

What does winning the Calling All Dreamers competition mean to you and what will it do for your business?
Winning the Calling All Dreamers competition is a huge honor.  By going through the process I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to open a business and that our community is as excited to finally have a spice shop as I am to open one!  After having my business plan challenged and improved at every turn, I can truly appreciate the importance of winning this competition, as I’ll have access to critical resources and capital, all of which will be necessary for success.

Without Calling All Dreamers, my spice shop idea would never have developed as quickly as it has.  Over the past several months I’ve had to really refine my business proposal and continually test my assumptions to put together a proposal that makes sense.  Even if I hadn’t won, the Calling All Dreamers competition would have undoubtedly advanced my concept and given me the confidence to potentially open up shop in the future.