Kimberly Thompson, owner of The Grateful Gourmet Co., surprised even herself years ago when she discovered, after taking a job with a catering company, how much she loves to cook. Originally from Davenport, Iowa, and a graduate of the
University of Iowa with a degree in English, cooking wasn't always what Thompson
had in mind. It was while working for a catering
company in Iowa City, though, that Thompson found her niche. She worked her way up the ladder to a supervisory position, and after
moving to Galena, worked for a time at Galena
River Wine & Cheese. Seventeen years ago, Thompson was ready to branch off on her own.
The Grateful Gourmet Co. opened its doors for
business. "It slowly built itself," she noted, adding how scary it was at first to venture into unfamiliar territory and grow a business from the ground up. "I'm so glad I did it."
Quickly filling only 1,200 square feet of retail space was
an easy task. Thompson witnessed the cooking and
kitchenware market really take off. In no
time the store was filled with not only functional kitchenware items, but also delicious foods and unique gadgets and gifts.
In a short time the space started to outgrow itself, and in 2004 the upstairs was opened for retail as well. Thanks
to cable channels such as the Food Network, and the public's increasing interest in cooking, the demand was there. Customers started asking for items that they’d read about or saw on television. Their interests were spreading beyond just basic cooking. Curiosity in ethnic cooking, grilling, baking, and cooking techniques was increasing. The demand was there.
In 2008 Thompson also noticed an increase in her coffee and tea category, so much so, that she decided to take a chance and open a small separate store, GGII, down the street. The store carried locally roasted coffee beans, a variety of specialty teas and an array of the accessories that go with them.
Fast forward to 2014. Thompson purchased the building next door to the original shop. Walls were knocked down as the space underwent extensive remodeling.
Now, between the two floors, there is over 4,000 square feet of retail space. The businesses were combined and now the store carries over 40 categories ranging from cookware and bakeware to bar equipment, cutlery and specialty foods.
There's a section in the shop devoted entirely to coffee that is locally roasted and delivered daily. Customer favorites are the Perry Street Blend and Sumatra. The tea section has grown through the customer’s input and requests. You will find a variety including not only typical black tea but also more exotic teas such as Golden Monkey, Oolong and Rooibos.
The Grateful Gourmet prides itself on keeping up with the latest cooking trends, carrying quality products, and providing excellent customer service. Prices are reasonable and often lower than box chain stores.
Folks who come in are often surprised at not only the assortment, but also how competitive the prices are. When customers go upstairs they’ll find an assortment of products completely different from what is carried on the first floor. There are different sections for grillware, bakeware, canning and pizza making.
Doors are often opened late to accommodate customers coming
in after work, or tourists taking a stroll through town. When Thompson moved into the building years ago to set up shop, she ran across a quote that she holds close still today. She now has it written on cards to inspire her when she needs it.
"Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, hard work and dedication." Thompson is honored to live that quote every day, doing the work she loves.