Specialty Food Magazine

APR 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 22 of 63

CHEESE FOCUS selection as "Today's Perfect Cheese" and showcases it prominently unwrapped and elevated on a cake stand under a glass dome. The featured cheese moves briskly. "By rig- orously selecting the cheese that goes under that dome, it's our absolute seal of approval," Rubiner notes. "Many people take it without tasting it. They just say, 'Give me a quarter pound of the Perfect Cheese.'" The Community…The largest town in the Southern Berkshires, with about 7,500 year-round residents, Great Barrington is a two-hour drive from both Manhattan and Boston. Many New Yorkers have summer homes in the area, and weekenders come to ski in the winter. "It's a very seasonal com- munity," Rubiner says. Population swells in the summer and again in the fall. But winter and spring can be agonizingly slow. The Hurdles…"The brutality of the sea- sonality here took us a long time to figure out," Rubiner admits. "You lose a lot of money from January to May. You have a good summer and get back up to break even by August. And if there's a good foliage sea- son, you come out with a profit. But it makes cash flow and staffing difficult." He adds, "If people had told me how hard it would be to maintain a fully trained staff, I don't know if I would have gone into business here." The Successes…Even the "local" commu- nity is relatively spread out, says Rubiner, who tries to give his far-flung customers more reasons to visit. The store's fresh sea- food program has had good results. Once a week, via fishmongers in Maine, Rubiner trucks just-caught fish to his landlocked town. Customers are alerted via email to Wheels of cheese are displayed on slabs of locally quarried stone. the expected catch and place their orders. "It brings in people from far away pretty frequently," he says. His adjacent café, Rubi's Coffee and Sandwiches, also helps moderate season- al fluctuations and preempt shrinkage. Opened shortly after the store, in the for- mer bank's board room, the café serves espresso drinks and local pastries in the morning, grilled panini featuring the store's 20 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE ❘ specialtyfood.com

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