We love chatting to our Farm Shop & Deli Award winners in the months after the event so we can discover how being part of this event has helped their business. In the first of our ‘Meet the Winners’ series we caught up with Jen Grimstone-Jones who is the owner of Cheese Etc - The Pangbourne Cheese Shop. This successful business won the Cheesemonger of the Year and South East Award 2019.
The shop was originally opened in 2005. Jen took it over in 2015 and since then the shop has gone from strength to strength. They are a speciality cheese shop, selling over 130 different types of cheese alongside charcuterie, crackers, chutneys, wines, beers, ciders and gifts. The majority of their customers come and visit them in the store but they also sell to local pubs and restaurants as well as online.
What makes your shop special or different to others?
Our attention to detail; whether someone is coming in to buy a cheese wedding cake to feed 200 guests or a cheese sandwich for lunch, we treat every customer in the same way. We encourage our customers to try any of our cheeses before they buy them whilst talking them through the provenance of our products. People come to us not only for our selection but also our expertise.
How did your staff feel when they heard you were a Farm Shop & Deli Award winner?
The staff were totally blown away that we had been recognised by the Farm Shop & Deli Awards. We are a small village shop but we do our best and our success is completely down to the wonderful team who work alongside me. You enter awards not expecting to even be shortlisted, so to win was an incredible experience.
Which three words would you use to describe your shop?
Small, compact and cheesy.
Retailers like you are often at the heart of communities, tell us about some of the things you do to support your local community.
We do as much as we can to promote Pangbourne and the local area. We recently commissioned a map of all the local shops to be displayed in the village car parks which helps to guide visitors around the area. We always try and give raffle prizes to our local schools and I give talks at local clubs and societies – not charging for my time, just the cheese we take along for tasters. We also offer a friendly place for lonely local residents to come and sit, enjoy a cup of tea and to chat to our staff.
What did your customers think to the news about your award win?
They were all as amazed and chuffed as we were. Our customers always tell us how much they love the shop and they all contribute to its success.
How did you celebrate winning the award?
We didn’t really celebrate as life and work don’t allow us to take much time out so we’ve just been carrying on with trying to improve and to be the best that we can be.
Tell us about some of the PR opportunities this award has generated for you.
Local newspapers and magazines ran our press release and we had a lot of local coverage which has raised awareness of the village as a whole. It’s been great to see.
What does winning awards like this mean to you?
It is incredible to be recognised by such a prestigious award and amazingly humbling. I couldn’t speak after Nigel Barden read out our name, I was just so overwhelmed by it.
What do you love most about working in this industry?
I love our shop and I spend as much time in it as I possibly can. It’s not just a job, it’s a way of life. Cheese is such a fantastic product and I spend all of my free time trying to learn as much about it as I possibly can. When I go out to talk about cheese, I am just trying to share my passion. For me it is the ultimate food source and when I look at all of the variations that we have in our cheese counter I am just so in awe of cheesemakers!
Have you got any projects you are working on or plans for development you would like to share?
We are currently working on some different options for our website which will hopefully open doors to different communities. We also are looking to expand our team as we are getting busier and busier which is great.
Why should retailers enter the Farm Shop & Deli Awards 2020?
Just entering the awards made me focus on areas that we do well in, as well as those that we need to improve. It’s an amazing journey and I would encourage everyone to enter and see where the journey takes you.
Interested in entering?
Entries close Friday 20th September so click on the image below to commnence your entry: