Justin Tunstall gave up the big city for cheese.
He had enjoyed a successful career in publishing but wanted to get back to his hometown, the small village of Lyme Regis, Dorset, in England’s West Country. In 2008, he created the Town Mill Cheesemonger, a tiny shop stocked floor to ceiling with cheese. Cheese from Dorset, cheese from all over the UK, and even a few from the continent. And all of it started flying off the shelves. Within weeks of opening, Justin was selling three times as much cheese as he had projected. In 2009, the store was named the best new cheese shop at the 2009 British Cheese Awards. And in 2010, it received a Silver award in the retail category at the Best of the West show. Blimey.
This past March, Justin rolled out a new cheese: a wheel of Mature Dorset Cheddar from nearby Ford Farm, encased in black wax and weighing in at 200 grams. A fine item. But what made it really special was the commemorative label, which read, “Congratulations, Wills & Kate.” Then, as a complete afterthought, in the spirit of inclusion, a twin item was added: the same Dorset Cheddar. But this one was labeled, “Sod the wedding, it’s a day off!” You can probably guess what happened next. The anti-wedding cheese outsold the pro-wedding cheese by 8 to 1. What you probably would NOT have expected is that these results would get picked up by the national press. Suddenly, the big city that Justin Tunstall left behind couldn’t get enough of him and his cheese. The Daily Mail was analyzing his sales. The BBC was editorializing about what it all meant. The celebrated dueling cheeses of Town Mill Cheesemonger have become a kind of grassroots indicator of Britain’s love for (or disdain of) the royal wedding. Call it the cheese index. The cheddar gauge.
Is the royal family cheesed off about the 8-1 drubbing in Dorset? Probably not. The wedding should still be a huge success. Over a billion people will tune in. Approximately 327 million photographs will be taken. The bells of Westminster Abbey will ring for 3 hours. By the end of the day, all people will remember is how lovely it all was. Right?