Everett store’s the place to go for salt in all forms

It’s tucked in a beige industrial strip on Everett’s Airport Road, along a stretch boasting a gun range, adult video store and Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall.

There’s a subtle orange glow behind a window, but otherwise it’s pretty easy to pass it by.

That is, unless you happen to catch the sign: “Sea Salt Superstore, Purveyors of Exotic Salts.”

Purveyor of justice, sure. Purveyor of fine wine, certainly.

But of salt? Since when did salt attain either exotic or superstore status?

What’s up with that?

Salt is no longer just the cheap white crystals that are a fixture in every kitchen, standing loyally next to the shaker with the P.

Salt and Pepper are still a couple, sure, but with their own careers.

Sea Salt Superstore owner Scott Mackie sees only continued growth for the business he started eight years ago on the gamble that salt would become gourmet and trendy, just like coffee beans, jelly beans, doughnuts and beer did.

Yes, but this is salt, a dirt-cheap mineral. A dollar buys enough Morton Salt that lasts a person a year or three.

“People are switching over from processed salt,” Mackie said. “Sea salt is more potent. Everybody wants flavor. Everybody watches a cooking channel where they’re using these great rubs and great salts. People at home now have the opportunity to cook like Bobby Flay.”

The store has salt in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins does ice cream.

Espresso. Vanilla. Chocolate fleur de sel. Applewood. Cyprus citrus. Smoked bacon chipotle.

There are Himalayan salt bricks for cooking on. Salt bowls for mixing in. Salt stones to heat and put on your achy back. Dead Sea salt to dip your body in which, by the way, isn’t the same salt as dipping your truffles in.

Want a hand scrub? There’s a demo station bowl set up for that. Free.

The store has a salt tasting bar and flavored olive oils to sample.

That inviting orange glow in the window is from Himalayan salt lamps that are all the rage due to the ambient light and purported holistic qualities.

“I’m kind of like the old salt traders of years and years ago,” Mackie said.

Prior to purveying salt, his specialty was amusement parks. He started Funtasia in Edmonds in 1991. “Go-karts, bumper boats, batting cages, laser tag, adventure miniature gold course, all kinds of fun stuff,” he said. “I wanted to do something different. My son (Sean) was in Europe and he came back with all these great salts.”

Boom. He started the salt company in Everett and sold Funtasia to Family Fun Centers. Instead of 80 employees and 7 acres of excited youngsters, he has 13 workers and 20,000 square feet of solitude.

Wholesale and online sales are the bulk of his business, which has its own product brand, Caravel Gourmet, and does private label for many companies.

For five years, he ran a retail salt store outlet on Highway 99 in Lynnwood, across from the Costco business center. When the front space in the Everett warehouse building complex became available a month ago, Mackie closed the Lynnwood store and set up shop here.

Ann and Dave McCrea of Lake Stevens saw the salt sign at the new store from the road and wondered what’s up.

“We thought we’d check it out,” she said.

“It is interesting there is so much difference in salt,” he said.

Who knew?

You can get in the know. Sea Salt Superstore is at 11604 Airport Road, Everett. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call 425-249-2331 or go to www.seasaltsuperstore.com.

Send What’s Up With That? suggestions to Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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