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The art of salt: Nearing 80, Taneytown man thriving in new business

Jack Myers, left, his great-grandson Nathan Burnham and his wife Francis.
Jack Myers, left, his great-grandson Nathan Burnham and his wife Francis. (Submitted photo)

Starting a new business at 76 years old is quite a feat, but no problem for Taneytown resident Jack Myers. He is the creator of Mediterranean basil salt.

About three years ago, he and his wife, Francis, went to a yard sale and noticed the lady who was running the sale had a whole field of basil. He asked her what she was going to do with it. She said, "I am trying to get rid of it. Do you want some?"

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So Myers and his wife took two shopping bags full of basil home with them.

Being an avid cook and not wanting to throw any basil away, Myers began to do research on the computer to find out how to dry basil and how to process it, and then researched flavors of the Mediterranean. He also learned how it is used.

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Myers made some basil salt seasoning that he really liked, so he sent some to his brother, Harold, who lives in California. His brother took it to the largest distributor of spices on the West Coast. The spice company loved it, but the company never called Myers.

That gave Myers the incentive to make some more to sell. With his past business experience of owning a furniture company, Myers had the know-how to market his product. He decided to make some small batches of his basil salt to sell.

At first, he took his product to the Carroll County Farmers Market in Westminster. To his surprise, people loved it and bought it.

In 2012, Myers participated in seven shows where his Mediterranean basil salt "flew off the shelf." People started called him and complimenting him on his fine product. Myers thought, "I might have something here." Myers began to contact other venues and did more than 50 shows last year.

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Myers does everything in the production of his Mediterranean basil salt: He makes the product, fills the bottles, prints the labels, seals the bottles and shrink-wraps the lids. Myers uses hydroponic basil for his salt product. The salt itself comes from California. Only his great-grandson, Nathan Burnham, of Taneytown, helps him make it. Ravin Small, of Taneytown, his granddaughter, helps him at shows.

Just figuring out the logistics of bottles was a challenge for him. No one will sell the small entrepreneur a small amount. Many had a 10,000 or 50,000 minimum. In some cases, he orders bottles from one company and lids from another company.

"I take very great pride in my product and I refuse to put it in a plastic container. All the containers are glass," Myers said.

Locally, Myers sells his Mediterranean basil salt at a wide variety of local events and shows including the Carroll County Farmers Market from time to time.

In addition, Myers ships his basil salt nationwide and takes phone orders. He has received more than 600 likes on his page.

Currently, Myers is in the process of contacting larger shows.

"At my age I want to expand, but I do not want to travel great distances. I want to stay in Maryland," Myers said.

Now, 79, Myers enjoys making his Mediterranean basil salt because, "It keeps me active and I enjoy the camaraderie of meeting people. It gives me something to do."

Myers can be contacted at 410-935-5826 or mediterraneansale@comcast.net. He also has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Mediterranean-Basil-Salt-556345441087973.

Lyndi McNulty is owner of Gizmos Art in Westminster. Her column appears every other week in encore.

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