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Speciality Food is searching for independent cheesemongers to feature in the fourth edition of Inspirational Cheese Retailers, and readers are invited to share their nominations.
The last few years have been difficult for retail. When Covid restrictions eased, they found themselves hit by new challenges such as rises in the price of energy and stock, and the trickle-down effect of the cost-of-living crisis on their customers.
However, we’ve also seen incredible tenacity and innovation in this sector over the past 12 months, with our independents battling on, weathering the storms, and coming out fighting. It’s with a great sense of pride that Speciality Food can continue to support and shine a light on some of the best of the best.
The 2023 edition of Inspirational Cheese Retailers featured profiles of some of the UK’s most exciting and successful cheese shops, as chosen by professionals and cheese-loving consumers. Each one was hand-picked from dozens of nominations, chosen for outstanding performance in a particular niche, such as ‘Family Feel Champion’, ‘Local Hero’ and ‘Customer Champion’.
“We’re so lucky with our customers,” says Claire Knowles of The Mousetrap Cheese Shop, which was named 2023 Community Champion. “It’s just such a nice place to work. We’re blessed with a lovely group of staff who have such great relationships with regulars, and a lovely way with visitors. It’s just such a fantastic environment to be in, and everyone is happy to come into the cheese shop.”
She tells Speciality Food, “We love sharing our joy of cheese. It’s great to do cheese tastings for wedding cakes, and it’s so rewarding giving someone a taste of something new that they then love. Making sure people go away with something they know they’re going to really enjoy is very satisfying.”
Sharing a passion for cheese with customers, as Claire says, is one of the great pleasures of artisan cheese retail. Oli Smith of The Bristol Cheesemonger, named The Connector in our 2023 awards, says teaching shoppers about local produce, and helping them make the ‘connection’ between what they’re buying and the person who made it is vital in enhancing the enjoyment of artisan cheese.
“Bristol is a city that prides itself on supporting its small independent, and we carry this idea right through the business,” he explains. “Virtually every penny spent in our shop either stays in Bristol, or goes directly to small rural businesses. Apart from occasional guest cheeses, we now buy 100% directly from the producer, and are batch selecting an increasing number of products.”
It is passion like this that makes the speciality food sector such a rewarding environment, and we want to shine a light on retailers upholding these values.
In the 2024 edition of Inspirational Cheese Retailers, we will be showcasing a new batch of worthy winners who are champions of their local region and the very best cheese from around the world; and we want you to have your say!
If you know an independent who deserves to be named as one of 2024’s Inspirational Cheese Retailers, click here to fill out the simple form and nominate your winners, it only takes a minute.