Those who haven’t yet ventured into Stock Culinary Goods on Hope Street in Providence are in for a treat. Jan Faust Dane, the friendly owner and advisor on culinary delights, greets every visitor with an enthusiastic “Welcome!” Faust Dane loves to help her customers, who enjoy food – talking about it, cooking it, learning about its preparation and shopping for gadgets. Faust Dane emphasizes that Stock is not a gift store. “We want you to know that, if you want a spatula or a whisk or a colander, it’s here. Also, if you need something really unique and special not found in big-box stores, we’re equipped with that too.”
While not primarily a gift store, Stock offers many locally made gifts. Customers looking to buy a present for the foodie in their lives will have fun choosing among such popular offerings as cheeseboards from Wakefield and leather mason jar holders from Warren. Selling local products is fundamentally important to Faust Dane. She says, “I’m very optimistic about the rebound of manufacturing in the U.S., and it really has to happen at the corner-store level.”
She is doing her part to promote local merchandise and bring people together. Frequently, Faust Dane overhears conversations strangers strike up with one another in the store to discuss a recipe, a tool or a preparation technique. She’s thrilled about Stock’s influence on the neighborhood – its ability to connect food enthusiasts: “It’s always annoyed me that cooking, which is such a primal thing, is relegated to the mall or the internet. People should be swapping stories, sharing ideas. It happens all the time here. We have a little bit of a festive problem. It’s fun and lively and playful.”
A recent example of such festivity happened right after Thanksgiving. Disenchanted with the solitary aspect of the Cyber Monday experience, Faust Dane invited her customers to leave the house without having to change out of their pajamas to mingle. As an incentive, she offered a 25 percent discount to those brave enough to display their nighttime attire in public. The photos on the store’s Facebook page prove that the stunt was successful. Faust Dane often updates the locals on what’s happening at Stock with the help of social media; she says, “Twitter and Facebook have been major facets in our outreach.” Her previous experience as a writer for the “eat. shop” guides comes through in her witty and humorous posts.
In addition to educating customers who approach her with questions, she loves to offer informal and social classes: “We just like to stand around the central table, make friends, learn some techniques, go over ideas and inspiration. They [the classes] are always very fun and usually on offbeat things.” In the past, Stock has presented such interesting lessons as sauerkraut fermentation, oyster shucking, knife skills, and pairings of cheeses with wines. Usually, the store holds at least one or two per month.
Since the classes are currently on a holiday hiatus, those planning to adhere to New Year’s resolutions, such as eating healthfully, might benefit from some additional culinary inspiration. Faust Dane shared several of her favorite products with The Jewish Voice readers. The cookbook she often returns to is “Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 200 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto” by Michael Ruhlman. It appeals to her because “it splits the line between the scientific and the creative approach.” Her preferred gadgets are those that Microplane makes. They include cheese graters, chocolate shavers and zesters. And the item she can’t stop raving about is the Opinel carbon pocket knife. Faust Dane enjoys the knife’s versatility – her family has one in the house, in the car and in her husband’s pocket at all times.
Those who stop by the store, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, might discover other gastronomic treasures. Faust Dane’s expertise alone is a great reason for a visit. Most customers who live in the area already know this. She says, “The reception of the community has been beyond all expectations. … I’m blown away and delighted by how my wildest dreams are met. … It’s been the most intense and rewarding and joy-filled experience of my life.”
Stock Culinary Goods (stockpvd.com) is located at 756 Hope Street, Providence. Their phone number is 521-0101.
Editor’s note: This is one of a series of profiles of local businesses, some of which advertise with The Jewish Voice.