HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A cheese shop is set to open in downtown Holland Tuesday.
Culture Cheese Shop, located at 211 S. River Ave. near 9th Street, will be celebrating its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12 p.m. There will be a giveaway of a large cheese board with cheese, jams and crackers.
Owner Elizabeth Sluiter first became interested in opening a cheese shop during a trip to Italy. Shortly after arriving, she said she was tired and wanted a quick snack, ending up at a mom-and-pop cheese shop.
“I said to my husband, ‘One day I would just love to own my own cheese shop. … That would be a dream come true. Just a fun little mom-and-pop shop would be great,'” she recalled.
She said when he asked what she was waiting for, she told him: “Time, money, all the things.”
“He’s like, ‘Well, if you wait, it’ll be too late,'” she said. “So I decided to go for it.”
Sluiter, who worked in the dental field for almost two decades, first opened her cheese shop up at an incubator kitchen in Grand Rapids. She started to hold cheese classes and put together a cheese club, which offers three on-theme cheeses a month with a pairing email that comes with recipe ideas and explains the cultural background of the cheeses.
“I really am surprised at how fast it grew,” she said.
The Holland cheese shop will feature cheese from all around the world, including Ethiopian cheese, Hispanic cheese and, of course, Dutch cheese.
“That’s kind of how I started,” she said, explaining a church friend asked her to make him a cheese board. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to make you a Netherland-themed board.’ And so everything on there was from the Netherlands, all the way from the crackers to the jams, and cheese of course.”
After opening, she said she hopes to start hosting cooking classes.
“My big vision is to eventually get to do cooking classes and have people give us different cultural foods,” she said. I’m using cheese as my venue to get to that eventually.”
As she gets ready to open the store, where she’ll be “a butcher for cheese,” the community has been “overwhelmingly supportive,” she said.
Sluiter said their friends and family helped them make her dream a reality as she and her husband readied the store.
“Our family has been really helpful as well as our friends, helping watch our kids, get them to their activities,” she said. “It takes a village to start your own business, but it’s also very rewarding.”
“This community is a close-knit community,” she said. “They want to see these small businesses succeed and so they have been an outpouring of love and, ‘We can’t wait to come visit.’ … There’s just so many great, positive things that people have been saying in this community, which just makes me feel so much better about taking that jump.”
Though getting the business ready to open has been hard work, she said she knows she’s doing the right thing.
“Yes, it’s exhausting at times and I have recognized that it’s a lot of work to do your own business, but at the same time, I feel so fulfilled at the end of the day,” she said.