As you know we talk with businesses all over the country and we got the chance to hear from Venissimo Cheese. One…their cheese looks amazing…Second…they sound like an amazing and passionate business…and Third…they are our heroes.

We got the chance to talk with them about how they handle difficult customers and what Venissimo is all about…

A little background about Venissimo Cheese

Venissimo Cheese was founded by Gina & Roger Freize in San Diego, California, in 2003. But it almost never opened! The owner of the retail space was not interested in splitting a larger space nor leasing a little wedgie to an unknown business in an unknown industry (who wants to buy just cheese)?  After spending months calling & faxing reasons to let Venissimo in, Gina overheard that the owner would be at the site on a certain day. So she snuck in with a cheese plate to let the product speak for itself. Needless to say, the owner was convinced & agreed to the deal the very next day!  Venissimo Mission Hills opened its doors on January 17, 2004.  Roughly three years later, Venissimo opened its second location in Del Mar.  It’s third shop in Belmont Shore opened in November 2008 & its newest location – complete with an Academy of Cheese (AoC) – just opened in downtown San Diego in September 2009!  Where next?  Stay tuned… 

Our mission is to do for cheese what Starbucks® did for coffee! “Someday, camembert will be as well-known as cappuccino,” says Cheese Wiz Gina. We will do this by sharing the goodness & glory of cheese. Literally – when you visit the shop, you can taste anything you like. Friendly cheeseheads & descriptive receipts (complete with pronunciations, country of origin, milk type & more) aim to take the intimidation out of artisinal cheese shopping.

(info was taken off their website here)

Interview with Venissimo Cheese Founder – Gina Freize

We asked Gina if she had ever had to deal with difficult customers and she immediately filled us in. Check out the interview below:

What is was the worst thing that a customer said to you or your employees?

In the gourmet cheese world, the holidays are our busiest time of the year.  The first year we were open, we truly didn’t know what to expect, but we survived & had a great season.  Our holiday hours were closing a tad early (3p) on both eves, then closed on Christmas & New Year’s Day so our employees could have some family time. Of course, we had signs posted & communicated this fact everywhere we could. 

I clearly remember bouncing into the shop on January 2, happily ready to launch into a new year & finding a note wedged in the door.  The customer, in not too kind words, asked, “What kind of business person are you, closing early on New Year’s Eve??  Not very bright.  Anyone knows that if you are in retail, you have to always be open.”  Boy… did my happy balloon immediately deflate. 

What did you do in response to the customer or did you do anything?

After a few tears, deep breaths & much venting to my husband, I gave this gentleman a call.  Mind you, what I WANTED to say was, “Why the hell are you waiting until the last minute to shop?”  But what I did was let him know that I appreciated his suggestion & shared that I just wanted to make sure my employees had a chance to enjoy the holidays too.

Today, seven years later, he remains one of our customers (albeit, still a bit crabby)

At Business Beware, we like to call to refer to bad customers as “CustoMonsters” so what would your definition of a CustoMonster be?

Anyone who is rude to my staff, who is just there trying to help them.

Have you ever fired a customer?No – so far we just grin & bear it.

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