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About Us

“Our focus is on quality and buying local. 
Most cookware stores are about volume and utility. 
But we’re about finding beautiful table linens, antique pieces, unique pieces – we’re not just about cooking, but also about entertaining.”
– Karen Shernan

 

 Karen and Katie Shernan purchased Newburyport Olive Oil Co.
in December of 2014, then soon opened the Port Plums cookware store
next door the following summer.

After Katie spent a semester in college studying abroad in Granada, Spain, the two were confident they wanted to own a food-related business. She and Karen devised a number of business plans, just prior to stumbling upon a listing for Newburyport Olive Oil.  When Katie came across that listing, their dreams soon turned to reality.

 It also became clear to them how much Newburyport deserved a specialty cookware store. And so became Port Plums, which still remains the only true kitchen store in the area.

 Flash forward 5 years and they are now offering cooking classes and demonstrations at their demo kitchen, private events, custom favors, and more.

 As longtime residents of the Greater Newburyport area, the mother-daughter duo opened up this small business in an effort to make a difference in the community’s kitchen. They strive to be a resource that supports local residents, merchants, and artisans, while also providing healthful and delicious meal components for the community.

 Their business is committed to serving absolute top quality and authentic products. Whether it be any of their 65+ Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars, salts and spices, linen table runners, or a top rated gadget, there is nothing you can’t trust.

 There really is something for everyone here. Come by and see for yourself!

 

Meet Our Staff:

 

 

 


Karen Shernan
Co-Owner

Originally from Washington D.C., Karen came to Massachusetts for college and has never left. As an employee at Bread and Circus (which became Whole Foods) in Cambridge during college, Karen helped grow the chain from one to seven stores and played a key role in opening up the first natural foods, deli, and bakery in the area. She began creating recipes for Bread and Circus, started a personal chef catering business, and built a culinary network of chefs, health professionals, and business owners. She wanted to build Port Plums on the idea that she herself needed a resource for great kitchenware. Her favorite part of owning this store? “Happy customers”, she says. “People are thrilled to be here. They always learn something.  We provide a resource and new experiences for them.  We want to be different in a meaningful way.”

When Karen’s not at the store or working at her home office, she enjoys caring for her horse Dulci, traveling, going for long walks in the woods with her golden retriever, and cooking with her partner. She can often be found in our demo kitchen even on her days off, whipping up cookies or an olive oil cake for our staff and customers to enjoy.

 

 


Katie Shernan
Co-Owner

A West Newbury native, Katie’s passion for beautifully-presented gourmet cuisine blossomed while overseas: In Provence, France, where the food at open-air markets was prepared with such care; and in Granada, Spain, where the vibrant tapas scene opened her eyes to new and innovative culinary possibilities to be explored back home.
As a self-professed “food nerd”, Katie loves and revels in the science behind food. She’s always looking for new flavors to kick her meals up a notch, and often will bring in treats to the store just because she felt like baking. “I’m always thinking about the next place I can get a delicious snack,” she says, “and when you find that perfect dish, that’s the best moment – and the simpler, the better.” 

Katie’s favorite part of the job is meeting customers who come back time and time again to show their friends and family members our selection. “When they’re just as excited about a product as we are, that’s the best,” she says.

When Katie’s out of the store, she can be found trying new recipes in her kitchen, perusing all the great offerings at Tendercrop, or running after the German Shepard puppies from her boyfriends business.

 

 


Leighann Richards
Store Manager & Buyer

As a licensed and practicing esthetician, Leighann appreciates nothing more than our products and the benefits they have for our bodies. “I now know how healthy these oils can be, not only for your skin and hair, but your whole body, inside and out,” she says. Leighann has seen all of our American-made products grow in popularity and bring more and more joy to our customers. When asked her favorite part of the job, she says, “the joy of customers. They come in, taste our oils, have conversations with us about recipes and cooking, get really excited about what they find here. They walk out the door with a head full of ideas, beyond excited about their purchases.” Besides being one of our store managers, Leighann is also a buyer for our store. She is responsible for many of the customer favorites, such as the Lekue’ Popcorn Maker and the whole Stasher line. She loves to find new companies with unusual and useful products, and always makes sure she tests them out.  In addition to being an esthetician, Leighann enjoys spending time with friends, visiting her Dad in Maine, and is always in search of the next best donut.

 

 



Maggie Griffin
Store Manager & Photography/Social Media

Not only is Maggie our social media guru and in-house photographer, she’s been a store manager here since the beginning. Maggie graduated from Northern Essex Community College with a Liberal Arts degree and concentration in Photography, just prior to joining our team. Maggie became to be one of our experts and has seen the team learn about, love, and use all of the products we sell. “Actually using the things we sell in the store in our personal lives really lets the customer see that we’re not full of it; when they see me using my Corkcicle water bottle every day and hear me gush about how much I love it, or telling them how I use my favorite balsamic. That’s an experience most stores don’t offer, and I think that is what sets us apart.”
In her free time, Maggie can be found attending concerts of her favorite bands, taking photos, and hanging out with her dog.

 


Liz Strauss
Content Writer & Seasonal Sales Associate

Liz started as a store associate one summer, and quickly came to love all the great products we offer. As she finishes her last semester at Pace University, Liz now connects with our vendors and various small-business leaders to create content for our blog. With a major in Communication Studies and a double minor in Journalism and Digital Media Studies, she loves nothing more than reporting on topics she loves, especially here in her hometown. One of her favorite blogs she’s written is the one in which she features Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street. “It was inspiring getting to see Milk Street’s headquarters and gaining a better understanding of how the pros do it. The fact that we partner with them is so great for our community,” she says. Outside of work, you can find her writing for her own website, cooking with our Avocado Oil, or finding her next mountain to hike.

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