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Justin Tunstall, retail consultant, shares his cheese selling experience

“Enlisting with the Territorials”

When I opened my shop, my first cheese order from the wholesalers included solid examples of those Territorials that originally hailed from outside our immediate area – Martell’s Double Gloucester, Mrs A’s, Mrs K’s, Sparkenhoe and Special Reserve Wensleydale. Sizeable rounds of cheese looked good in the chiller, but after a week, we’d barely made a dent into them, and I certainly hadn’t recouped much of the couple of hundred quid that I’d invested. I’d set out to provide a showcase for the very best cheeses that Britain could produce, but had ended up with an unacceptable level of wastage

“The vinyl is final and the curd is the word”

Last weekend I was at a conference in a faraway city; one that I hadn’t visited in over 20 years. With some time off on Saturday afternoon, I decided to explore. I’d ‘done’ the famous sights on previous visits, so I resolved to look at some shops. My diary noted that it was both Record Store Day (RSD2017) and Raw Milk Appreciation Day, so I thought that mixing and matching record shops and delis could be especially rewarding

“Avoiding the ‘b’ word”

As a teenager in the early 1970s, prior to my first ‘dinner party’, parental advice didn’t just cover which cutlery to use. I was also briefed to avoid discussion of politics, religion or money. Perhaps that’s why I became a music, and later, a cheese bore. Of course this advice was completely misplaced when I became a student and such subjects were the very stuff of late night debate, over Nescafé and Gingernuts

“Cobweb corner”

There’s usually a little bit of a shop that makes the owner wince – not for reasons of cleanliness, I trust, but because the offering has become stale. It shouldn’t mean your cheese stocks, as common-sense and statutory food hygiene must take care of that; nor the dry goods that have a stock rotation programme and are put on special offer in advance of best before date. Well-considered systems will sort those out

“Time, gentlemen (and ladies), please”

I’ve read opinions in this magazine that shops should always be open if there’s a chance of customers being around. That’s fine if one has an adequate supply of trained staff that can be put onto adjusted rotas and thus spread more thinly – the marginal cost of opening for the extra time would then run to little more than electricity for lights, tills and scales. Small shops seldom have that luxury; our world has the constant challenge of scheduling staff to cover core hours around sickness, holidays and other unplanned events. Naturally, should the additional business add proportionately to turnover, then it’s worth looking at increasing headcount, or at least boosting the overtime budget

“Monogamy: overrated?”

How many partners have you had? If it is a small part of your business, it may be that you use just a single supplier. If it plays a major part, multiple suppliers may be needed to achieve the range that you want

“Q – score more than 10 points”

It’s an oft repeated cliche that we are a country of shopkeepers; also that we Brits respect, indeed LOVE a queue. Consequently the line of customers that most cheesemongers experience in December could be seen to represent the British Christmas as definitively as a Robin on a greetings card, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or The Queen’s Speech


When The Who’s Roger Daltrey sings “I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth,” one might be forgiven for thinking that he came from a family of habitual deli-sample guzzlers


What qualities make a good cheesemonger? That’s a question we were looking to answer recently at the British Cheese Awards, where a competition was run to identify Britain’s Best Young Cheesemonger, sponsored by Anthony Rowcliffe & Son, now in their third generation of cheese specialist

“Captain Chutney triumphs once more”

I learned something today – the real difference between cross-selling and up-selling. Business jargon is ever-developing; new terms can mean new slants for consultants, even if the principles have been in operation for centuries

“Raw! Huh yeah. What is it good for?”

Our dog, Dexter (the cereal killer), is fed a diet called Raw Meaty Bones. Akin to the ‘paleo’ regime for humans, the idea is that dogs should return to the foodstuffs available to their antecedent, the wolf. There’s something attractive about the presumed authenticity of food as fuel, from a time before processing and genetic modification

“I signed up for origami class, but it folded…”

Last week I did two things out of character: I bought cheese from a supermarket, and I watched a ‘RomCom’. I won’t name the shop; the film was Love Actually

“Keeping It Fresh”

When we have a winning formula, we can be resistant to changing it. There’s an often quoted two year time period during which new businesses will succeed – or fail

Essential Cuisine

Essential Cuisine

Essential Cuisine, the innovative creator of quality stocks, gravies, jus and glaces, has developed…

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