OAK PARK, IL (WKOW) -- People in Illinois don't have far to travel to get their hands on Wisconsin artisanal cheeses, but thanks to one local merchant, the drive just got a bit shorter.
The owner and staff at Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, are passionate about Wisconsin cheese.
"It's wonderful to sell cheese," Eric Larson, founder of Marion Street Cheese Market said. "I mean, one of the most exciting things is you get to have that immediate gratification of giving people a sample of something and seeing how they react to it."
Since Larson opened the store in 2004, he has focused on sourcing locally made artisanal cheese.
"We've been very committed to local cheese but Wisconsin really dominates the local artisan cheese portion of our cheese case," Larson said.
Offering samples and telling the stories behind these hand-crafted gems is creating higher demand.
"We very much want it to be a relationship where people are getting passionate about cheese," Larson said. "Where they get to know the stories behind cheese, they get to know the cheesemakers."
To make sure Marion Street's staff can talk knowledgeably and with passion to customers, Larson takes them on field trips to Wisconsin to visit the plants, meet the cheesemakers and learn all about the cheeses they sell.
Sharing first-hand information with customers also helps them better understand the craftsmanship that goes into Wisconsin artisan cheeses.
Larson says the goal of the store is to educate customers and create life-long relationships between cheesemakers and people who buy their products, as well as lowering the carbon footprint from where they source their local products.
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