| Door County Advocate
ALGOMA – A cornerstone of the retail cheese market in Kewaunee County has closed its doors, but it’s trying to make the best of a difficult situation by making conditions better for its staff at its Door County location.
Renard’s Cheese, a family-owned local artisan cheese maker with retail shops in Sturgeon Bay and Algoma, made the decision to close down its Algoma store on County S on Oct. 5.
However, the Sturgeon Bay store, on County DK just off State 57, remains open as usual and cheese-making operations are not affected. And, no jobs were lost because of the closing because the Algoma store’s five employees all will work in the Sturgeon Bay store about 13 miles away.
That’s because the closure wasn’t due to a downturn in business – quite the opposite, said Ann Renard, co-owner with her husband, master cheesemaker Chris Renard. Instead, it’s because both stores, especially the Algoma location, struggled to get and maintain the staffing levels necessary to provide strong customer service, Renard said.
“Up until recently, Renard’s Cheese has avoided the impact of these (staffing) shortages, however this is no longer the case,” the Facebook post read in part. “In order to maintain our outstanding customer service and to ensure our team members reasonable working hours and work/life balance, we have made the difficult decision to close the Algoma retail store. This will allow us to combine our amazing team members at one location to serve our valued customers with the highest level of service we can provide.”
The third-generation cheese-making company was founded in 1961. It opened its first retail shop in Sturgeon Bay in 1975, with the Algoma store opening a year later.
“It’s definitely not easy,” Renard said to the Advocate about the closure. “But I work in-house with the staff daily, as does Chris. After watching the staff work shorthanded, (closing the store) was best for the company.”
The announcement came with…