How To: Prepare Your Cheese Counter For Christmas

Andy Swinscoe, owner of The Courtyard Dairy, shares his top cheese-selling tips ahead of the frantic festive season

CHEESE
We’ve already put some our most important orders in for our key cheeses – Stichelton, Kirkham’s Lancashire, Hafod Cheddar. As some of that is being made now and others we are keen to get them in early so they can start to cherry pick out good batches that will wow our retail customers. Most of our seasonal cheeses actually go out of season in the winter (goat and sheep) but a few come to their best. Vacherin is perhaps the most important in that area and a very big seller for us. Mons Fromages do an absolutely fabulous one, which is by far the best in my opinion.

ACCOMPANIMENTS
Fruitcake / Christmas cake for cheese. Has to be – we’re in Yorkshire! Otherwise our great range of chutneys from both Rosebud and Raydale Preserves stand out; as does Kent and Fraser’s lovely thin ‘Toasts’.

EXTRAS
We will sort out staffing in the next month, along with the extra infrastructure we need to make it a bit smoother (additional cutting space, storage and display space). We also prepare gifts for those wanting to grab n’ go, for example cheeseboards and hampers.

FESTIVE DOS AND DON’TS
• Don’t bring in new lines just for the sake of Christmas. If it is great stock it all year round

• Be careful with what seasonal lines you bring in – beers branded for Christmas and mini cheeses may sell well in December but have any left into Jan and they’ll never go, which could undo all that hard work!

• Anything you do bring in, make sure it fits in with what you believe in and the ethos and sourcing policy for your shop. Otherwise you water down your message when you get the most customers in

• Stack it high. Whatever cheese you thought you’d need, order a wee bit more – it’ll go!

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