After 2 decades working in the natural food industry of the 60’s Lyman and Linda White began to see that people were becoming increasingly aware and conscious about food. The cheese industry like so many, was a traditional one that had fallen victim to over processing and mechanization. Can you believe that over 90% of all cheese in the 60’s was ‘processed’? In fact, at one time we had counted over 60 varieties of ‘processed cheese’. Back then cheese was pretty dull and bland tasting. No one ever thought about concepts like ‘cheese and wine’ or ‘cheese plates’, or locally produced farmstead cheeses.
Like many boot straps, Cheese Importers was started with little money and a lot of heart. The basic plan was to hand select and deliver natural and imported cheese to shops, café’s and co-ops along the Colorado front-range. We were also going to find and promote small local cheese makers (ever looked for a needle in a haystack?) every chance we got. Things were slow and simple at first and we worked the long hours cutting blocks of cheddar, turning our wheels of parmesan, making deliveries, and keeping the accounts. Surprisingly, within a year retail customers were knocking on the warehouse door. They had heard about us and wanted to ‘buy direct’.
Since those early years we have grown slowly, and added high quality products like oils, spices, olives, and other good natural foods. Today we have cheese from many countries, and lots of good farmstead cheeses made by American artisans. Our wholesale base has grown and includes over 400 of Colorado’s discriminating, quality oriented restaurants, natural grocers, co-ops, and neighborhood buying clubs.
Today, two of the Whites brilliant children, Clara Natasha and Samm have assumed responsibility for development and daily management. The company is still overseen (and prodded at times) by Linda. Clara and Samm possess fire breathing zeal regarding quality, and an honest commitment to their community. This youthful energy helps keep us in touch with the ever changing marketplace.
A third fire breathing child lives in Portland. Sacha White founded and operates Vanilla Bicycles which builds beautiful custom bicycles, known far and wide for no compromise, high end quality. Like so much of the ‘new’ America, these children are good examples of a return to and a deep appreciation for craftsmanship and a traditional work ethic.
Over the last 30 some years, retail sales and mail order business have blossomed as well. We now have an entire store carved out of the original warehouse called Market Europa where we sell foods from around the world. We offer house wares, linens, gift baskets and a refrigerated mail order service. Somewhat surprisingly, we have even become a ‘destination’ stop for out of town visitors.