I celebrated my 38th anniversary in the cheese business recently, and I spoke to Lee Knowles, who hired me at The Cheese Shop in Caldwell, New Jersey. I was a 15-year-old kid and I really liked selling cheese. Apparently I was pretty good at it. It was a franchise; there were about 90 of them across the country at that point. This one in Concord was one of the 90. The franchise is no longer in existence. I found this store was for sale in 2000, my daughter was a month old, and I bought it.
I love retail. It’s the best. It’s exciting.
It’s intimate. You get to handle the product — you get to eat the product. You have to! You have to be able to describe it. I love cheese. I’m not great at moderation. When I get into something, I tend to eat a lot of it.
I guess I’m just silly. The first year we got crucolo — something that big, something that majestic, something that beautiful — how often do you get to see a 400-pound wheel of cheese? It deserves some kind of celebration. The event just kept getting bigger and bigger with more people coming. My whole event is 45 minutes. It’s not a Cheese Shop event. It’s a Concord event. People look around, shop around, and have fun. They leave with an image of Concord being a fun place. I had a gentleman call me recently wanting to know when the cheese parade was, because two years ago he was in town and saw it. He came up again last year from Connecticut and wanted to do the same this year. It’s really something to see: It’s a really big piece of cheese.
MORE INFO The Crucolo Parade begins Thursday, December 4, at 3:30 p.m. at The Cheese Shop, 29 Walden Street, Concord. 978-369-5778; concordcheeseshop.com
Interview has been edited and condensed.