Creamery expands retail store
Change is everywhere at the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery.
While the 130-year-old year building is undergoing an extensive renovation, one of the notable changes to visitors is a brand-new retail store.
The store opened on May 23 and is off to a smashing success, explained Beth Ingli, Advertising Director and Stores' Supervisor.
"We had six customers before 9 a.m. (that day)," she said. "We were quite busy over Memorial Day weekend."
Visitors will see many notable changes, among them:
--The addition of five new cooler doors, which will expand the creamery's selection of selling cheeses. "Our old store, we sold 240 different varieties of Wisconsin cheese," Ingli said. "I want 400, so we have 160 to go. We want to be your headquarters for Wisconsin cheese."
--Starting Tuesday, creamery retail staff will also become ice cream experts as "Station Stop Ice Cream," a satellite shop of Flat Pennies Ice Cream opens up. Ingli explained the two businesses partnered to open a store in Rochester, Minn., and while the location didn't work out, both businesses like their chances with the store closer to Flat Pennies' main headquarters in Bay City. "We are really excited about it," Ingli said. "They have good ice cream." "Station Stop" will be ice cream only.
--Although it may not be big with the local residents, Ingli believes the addition of two public restrooms will be huge to the creamery's bottom line. "We will be able to promote more bus tours," she said, as the restrooms are handicap accessible with changing tables. "I know we are going to bring in more customers as a result." She estimated 70 percent of their clients are from outside the Western Wisconsin area.
--An expansion of assorted merchandise along with a kids' korner are in the works. "We have four pallets of new merchandise that will be up once we get our display walls ready," she said.
To illustrate how popular the creamery has become, Ingli told the story of a French-speaking couple who visited the retail store while it was in its temporary location. The husband spoke no English, and the wife very little, she recalled. Yet, they had a book (Ingi didn't remember the title) that profiled Ellsworth Cheese Curds, so the couple flew from France to New York then drove to Chicago and onto Ellsworth for the curds. The couple had a sampling of curds and said they were very good, but didn't leave with any, because they had no place to keep them cool. They left with karmelkorn instead.
"People all over the world want to come here," she said.
Ingli said a grand opening will occur in August, likely in conjunction with the Pierce County Fair. Two other open houses are scheduled in June with K102 and in July with KS95.
The retail store is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Mondays-Fridays, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays.