Livelihood: When did you open your business? Was there anything specific that prompted you to start your business at that moment?
Yuval Sterer: My wife Lisa and I opened the Big Cheese 14 years ago. We were doing a farmers market in Kingston at the time and my cheese-a-holics were freaking out about the winter coming, wondering how they would be able to get their cheese during the winter time. Originally we opened in a tiny little space in Rosendale, in the building right behind our location now. We chose Rosendale because we loved it and we always have. We liked the neighborhood, so we bought the building and have been here ever since!
LH:What makes your business unique from competitors?
YS: We’ve been here for almost 14 years and I don’t think there’s a business here short of the Rosendale Cafe that’s been here this long. We have a vast collection of cheese from all over the world and have a lot of followers who are always looking to see what’s new. Our store is an eclectic collection of both vintage clothing and vintage cheese; my wife was in flea markets and vintage clothes before this, and we looked for a way to get them to merge. The clothing has been a part of it almost from day one. If a customer has a certain product they are looking for, we will always answer their request. We will search far and wide to get it.
LH: How would you like to see your business grow?
YS: I would be happy to see more new faces coming into the store outside of just Rosendale people. In an ideal world, that’s what I’d like to see. I have my regulars that come in for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though, so that must mean we’re doing something right! We own another business right next door, so I’m happy with how the cheese shop is. Overall, we would like to see Main Street grow and become what it has always been seen as, a cultural center and business center. We’d like to see more businesses come into town.
LH: What is your favorite part about what you do?
YS: Always making new stuff and new flavors for my community. I love it. A lot of other businesses have came and went and what makes us unique is that we can answer the needs of our community within the community. I think one of our best sellers is our falafel wrap—our number one seller.
LH: How does your business fit into the larger movement to revitalize the Hudson Valley?
YS: I think each and every one of us as individual business owners are doing the best that we can with our businesses to make it grow. We are all trying in our own way here on Main Street. If our customer bases are growing, that will be an indicator.
LH: How have you been using Currents in your business to support the local economy?
YS: We both accept and trade Currents at our shop. We accept 25 percent of purchases in Currents, and a fair amount of people come into our store to use them. Right now we also make purchases in Currents for our store; we buy our maple from Maple House, and buy tea from ImmuneSchein teahouse at the wholesale level.
I would like to see some more farms become a part of [the Hudson Valley Current] so we can purchase more with Currents for our business. I would love to see more vendors and purveyors participate in using Currents and let it reverberate throughout the Hudson Valley where we can use them in many more places. This puts the power in the hands of the community by keeping money in the community.