20 October 2021, 07:08 AM
  • James Grant of No2 Pound Street recounts an unexpected meeting of minds with a group of Millennials
James Grant, No2 Pound St: “Cheese is a luxury”

Our wine, cheese shop and deli was established in 2010. The shop is based in a rural area with little footfall. Our main income is at the weekends when families and those weekly commuters finally come into the town. Location is key to the success of most small businesses, so in order to put our business on the map we have had to work very hard.

We have been able to promote our business in many ways. The most effective has been by doing charter and farmer’s markets. Engaging with our audience and explaining about the produce is key to sales. We found some key towns that were missing cheese sellers at their markets. Since starting these, we have been able to increase sales, let people know who we are, what we are and where the shop is located.

Some markets that we attend are as far as 30 miles from the shop and others are on the doorstep. To this day we still find people who have been living in Wendover all of their lives that have still not been into our shop. Markets give you an opportunity to engage and sell your business; this has been a great way to win new customers and encourage people to visit the shop.

Over the last few weekends, I have attended some major food festivals. Recently I attended Christchurch Food Festival – a well-established event set up over 20 years ago. The event runs over the last August Bank Holiday. The festival aims to help people reconnect with real food instead of the commodity-driven industrial food on offer in the supermarkets.

So, I called up an audience to my Christchurch festival pitch and a group of Millennials came over to listen to me talking about British artisan cheese. Their ears pricked up and eyes were fixed on each cheese that I described. I explained that each cheese was a product of hard work, passion, good animal husbandry and that each cheese reflected the terroir and species of animal used for the recipes.

I gave samples of each cheese to my new Millennial friends, Emmy, Josh and Matt. They were in awe of the flavour and quality of the cheese and their faces immediately lit up with glee. At the finish line of the tasting I thought to give a sample of freshly made Somerset Buffalo Mozzarella. Until this point the vegan, Emmy, had decided not to partake. However, after telling Emmy about the animal husbandry and how well I knew and trusted this particular cheesemaker, Emmy decided to have a taste. What happened next was not expected – Emmy tasted the cheese and after a few seconds burst into tears! Emmy exclaimed that this was the finest Mozzarella and then recalled enjoying Mozzarella before becoming vegan, but never having tasted something so moist, creamy and citrussy ever before.

This eureka moment showed Emmy how commoditised cheese has become. All that was needed was for my Millennial friends to taste the cheese and for them to realise that this food that predates recorded history needs now to be properly respected and enjoyed.

Later the same evening, as I was grabbing a quick pint in a local bar after a long day selling great cheese, Matt, Emmy and Josh bumped into me. They invited me for a drink downtown. I nervously accepted (as a man in his early 50s with a group of Millennial lads could mean shots and trouble). We ended up in a Death Metal bar with other Millennials and a few Generation Xs like me. We talked about music and about life, and do you know what? It was wonderful. Yes, there was the obligatory shot of goodness knows what. But importantly they all agreed that they were all tired of society’s lies when it comes to politics, religion and food. When I asked how it was having a drink with an old man like me, they all said, we all live in one time, we need to seize the moment every day and be kind to each other and honest about what we eat.

My Millennial friends all agreed that cheese is a luxury and should be respected. Millennial Cheese indeed.