There’s nothing like doing inventory to get you in touch with the cheese. Back in Ye Olde Rainbow times (mid –‘90s), we used to really get down the stock to make counting easier. There’d be holes in the display, practically empty backstock coolers, just a couple of people counting… plenty of time for pizza and beer. It was a simpler time, when no one expected anything from a natural food retailer. Hippies will be hippies, after all…
About 2/3 of backstock the month I got hired in 1994:
Now however, our volume is just too big. We can’t handle our cheese distributors only delivering once a week anymore because our backstock coolers can’t hold that much cheese. I can do little things to make inventory easier but its not like I can just not order Parmigiano Reggiano so that it’s easier to count up the cooler. When inventory falls on a Sunday night it’s a little easier, but then you are also standing in a 38 degree walk-in, shivering and scrawling numbers on a Sunday night. Trade-offs.
About ¼ of backstock around the holidays in 2001:
The worst part of inventory is going through cheese jail (“where the bad cheese goes”) going through all the icky, bad-moldy, sticky, stinky-in-a-bad-way, unsellable cheese trash. Some just needs to get tossed, some is still awaiting pick-up from distributors that “forget” to bring return slips, especially in the days preceding a June 30 inventory. No one wants to count the nasty at the end of the fiscal year.
Still, there’s something incredibly satisfying about spending some quality time with the wheels, blocks, tubs, cans, and cut pieces of my cheesy companions.
Hey there little single Manchego, did you fall behind the case stack of your friends? Oh Cabot Clothbound, did someone wrap you up too loose? Graaskaas, what are you doing here? You weren’t scheduled to arrive until the 3rd. Brie, what are you doing so close to the cooler fans? Oh, I put you there while I was counting the 40# Jacks, didn’t I? Sorry. Did you feel a draft?
It kind of goes like that for 3 hours or so. I think we all feel a little closer afterwards.
Ah, yes! Such a familiar story. Thankfully being so far away from any of my distributors, I don’t have a cheese jail. At most I just have to take pics (which at times makes me feel naughty… maybe I should start a dirty cheese pr0n site: goodcheesegonebad.com), email them off, get my credit, and close my eyes as I bury the poor buggers in the bin.
I always talk to my cheese, too. It’s probably like singing to your plants… keeps em happy. Probably makes them taste a little better, too…
Seriously… given that if we care enough to talk and sing to our cheese it probably means we’re listening to them in the first place and caring for them more than others may. Interesting survey to be had perhaps.