This is how we left our stand on the Tuesday night after having had a really successful day, chatting with customers, existing, new and potential. Our task for first thing, the next day, was to cut open some cheese for samples.
My goodness….let’s not forget, we have never done a show before, so we really didn’t know what to expect. There were 42,000 visitors to the show on the Wednesday. We made a decision to not have samples cut up for people to grab and go as we cannot afford to give up that much stock for free – we just can’t afford it. And that is what people did – they grabbed and they went; broke my heart.
We felt that if people were serious about artisan cheese, then they would ask, or we would be able to tell that they were serious and we would then offer them a sample. I think this approach worked, and we did sell a fair amount of cheese, but to our surprise, we sold more chutneys than cheese. I am taking this as a really encouraging sign.
Not having the experience of a show, never mind a huge show like Nantwich, we learned a great deal and we made our mistakes (like not having anything to attach the banner with!) But on a more serious note, there was a tremendous number of very large cheese makers and even Waitrose and the Co-Op had stands. They were all selling cheese very cheaply and members of the public seemed to expect us to sell cheap cheese…..but we don’t.
It is not cheap because we make small batches, by hand – this is what makes us an artisan cheese maker – and our overheads are high, plus we pay a fair price for our milk and do not import cheaper milk like some dairies do, even if they do not admit it.
By the end of the Public Day, I freely admit to feeling more than a little frazzled, with visitors expecting massive discounts off our cheese, and we could not do that. We took back all of the unsold cheese to sell in the shop, we do not need to sell it off at rock bottom prices. So that was a difficult one that we had not anticipated, so if we were to do Nantwich again next year, if we are lucky enough to be invited again by Bradburys, I think we should do the Public Day differently.