The Cheese Shed Has Materialised In The Real World
The idea of a an actual ‘bricks-and-mortar’ cheese shop has been around a long time - probably since the business started, if I’m honest. Because whilst it’s been satisfying working out how to do a mail order business, sending cheese around the country and watching the numbers of appreciative and loyal customers grow, there’s nothing quite like something … real. A real building that real people can come to - and walk away with real cheese.
We couldn’t do it in our previous place - it was just too small. Also: we all needed to agree that it really was worth giving it a go (given the well known difficulties of doing ‘traditional’ retail these days), and - if so - where we should do it.
Eventually it was a building that decided both issues. 1 Station Rd, Bovey Tracey had been on the market for a couple of years before the penny dropped. I thought it was in the wrong part of town (it’s a little outside the centre). It looked a bit tired. Plus: I hadn’t clocked the potential of the barn at the back (used for weaving bespoke tweeds for 80 years). But one day I went for a look around and, as I did, I could start to see it.
Anyway, Fast forward. Fast forward through getting the money, having all the work done and moving in. Through jitters, nerves and wobbles. Through a global pandemic and things shutting on all sides. Through a big rise in demand for anything mail order. Through getting even more work done … and clawing our way to - finally - getting the shop finished.
the shop is different
Our shop is has a very different style to the average deli. One of the big things you will notice when you walk in is a large white box hanging from the ceiling. This is the refrigeration unit which will keep the whole space at a steady 10-13° - a maturing room temperature - the sort of temperature the cheese was used to, before it left the dairy to come to us. We didn’t come up with this idea - there are others around, but they tend to be in big cities (London, Edinburgh). Ours is the first chilled cheese shop west of Bristol - something we’re very proud of.
There are several reasons for doing this. It’s a better temperature to keep most cheeses, it means we could select some and mature them on further to gain flavour, but also it means our cheese is released from the metal and plastic chiller cabinets you see in a deli. In our shop whole cheeses are displayed on open shelves, or stacked up on the counter. It makes for a very dramatic effect, one in which the sizes, shapes, colours and textures of cheese - and this is a product that has huge visual appeal, I’ve always thought - can really be enjoyed. Add in a whole lot of beautiful Douglas Fir and a sexy s-shaped counter with a Welsh slate top and - well - if I say so myself, it does look very good.
how we see it working
At the Cheese Shed our ‘thing’ has always been the cheeses of the Westcountry and so just about everything comes from the four counties of Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall. That just seemed like a nice idea - and it was inspired by shops in France or Italy that really focus on the produce of their own region. We do our best to stock as many of these as we can - and at any one time we have over a hundred different types.
The shop can’t hold that many, and it would be confusing if it did, so the idea is that it will feature just twenty to thirty. However … all our other cheeses are only a few steps away, so if you come in wanting Ogleshield and you can’t see it in the shop, we can go and get it for you. We also think that what's in the shop should keep changing - I like the idea that if you go in, you’ll see a different set of cheeses to the ones you saw last week. With luck, we’ll attract customers who are curious and prepared to give something unusual a go. And it probably goes without saying that along with a shifting selection of great cheeses, we’ll also have a selection of accompaniments - chutneys, pickles, beer, wine and so on.
we'd love to see you
So that's it ! Come and visit us, when circusmstances allow. We'd love to see you. And when are we open? At the moment (February 2021): Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 10am to 4.30pm. We’re finding our feet. But the aim is to go to five days when it feels ok to do so - perhaps at or after Easter.