Our Story

Our story began in 1936 with our grandfather and shop owner Ioannis Michaelides. Ioannis Michaelides arrived in Thessaloniki from Smyrna in 1922 along with thousands of desperate refugees who left their homeland to escape the Great Fire and the ruthless war. In Thessaloniki, where he settled, Ioannis Michailidis opened his shop in the historic city center, at Kapani Market, where, together with other refugees from Asia Minor, they managed to create a small market. This small market with its unique people had a great history to share. Kapani started as a product exchange market which today, after 100 years, is a landmark in the city of Thessaloniki. Ioannis Michaelides started the trade by selling spices, herbs, colors, chemicals, and wicker baskets. The scents from his spices reminded the markets of the East.

Ioannis Michaelides, Owner and Great Grandfather, photograph taken around 1950

The store was managed by Ioannis Michaelidis until 1952, the year he got seriously ill, and the store passed into the hands of his daughter Bethlehem (Themis) and her husband Evangelos Oikonomidis. At that time groceries stores carried the title "Edible and Colonial" (Εδώδιμα και Αποικιακά) and the products were sold in bulk, without standard packaging. The word "Edible" meant edible foods, and the word "Colonial" meant species that came to the country from European colonies in Asia, Africa, etc., such as spices and tea.

Spices, Colors, Chemicals Ioannis Michailidis, successor Evangelos Oikonomidis

Bethlehem Oikonomidou, daughter of Ioannis Michaelides, wife of successor Evangelos Oikonomidis

Evangelos and Bethlehem (Themis) retained the store until 1980 when they retired and the store passed into the hands of their son-in-law Kostas Panagiotidis. Kostas Panagiotidis, as a third generation, took over the shop with a vision to transform, enrich and modernize it, preserving all the glamor, history, and labors that made up the image of the grocery over the past 44 years. The store now acquires a name and identity, its name "Balsamo". Kostas Panagiotidis, with a particular interest in herbs, turned to them and enriched his knowledge of their healing properties. Guided by the traditional remedies of our culture, he decided not to dwell on them and to acquire all the knowledge that botanology had to offer. As his knowledge grew, the more herbs he introduced into his shop and the people of Thessaloniki. Kostas was one of the first traders of the era who also dealt with essential oils and their powerful value in aromatherapy. He managed to enrich the range of products, and transform the shop into an authentic herbshop - spiceshop, selling herbs, spices, essential oils, natural oils, herbal blends. Kostas with his own cinematic personality and the music choises he made to accompany his everyday at the store made "Balsamo" a landmark of the historic center of the city.

Costas Panagiotidis, son-in-law of Evangelos Oikonomidis

Bags of herbs and spices sold in bulk in Balsamo (now Cardamo)

Kostas Panagiotidis for Parallaxi, photo by Natasa Christianopoulou

Article in the 2009 Athener Zeitung newspaper on Balsamo

With the retirement of Kostas Panagiotidis in 2015, Balsamo (now Kardamo) passes on to his son George Panagiotides. George, fourth generation now, the great-grandson of Ioannis Michaelides, the successor of this historic business, undertakes the aim and purpose of the store to ensure the excellent quality of products, constant updating and dissemination of his knowledge. Our goal is to provide the highest quality of the finished product that reaches the households, to provide knowledge on the proper use of herbs and herbal products, and to support Greek producers and growers of domestic products. With the launching of our online store, our vision is to spread the knowledge and to reach households in every corner of the earth. There is no better feeling when you see and meet people from other countries and other cities in Greece, coming back to your shop with a great smile on their face. Our name from now is Cardamo, and we send our dearest our wishes to all generations of families who have supported us for so many years in Thessaloniki, and to all generations to come.

Cardamo today:

Cardamo (Κάρδαμο), 16 Xalkeon str, Kapani Market, Thessaloniki, 2020Cardamo (Κάρδαμο), 16 Xalkeon str, Kapani Market, Thessaloniki, 2020Cardamo (Κάρδαμο), 16 Xalkeon str, Kapani Market, Thessaloniki, 2020