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mail order cheese?

You're the best found direct link to Gerard Paul yet! Was his shop in Freeport? Did he allow for walk-in customers there? Did he re-wrap bulk cheeses into those micro-portions there at his shop, or did he order those small portions from the cheese producers? Do you (or your dad) have any of the old sales brochures? If you've got substantially more to contribute about Gerard Paul & his International Cheese Lovers Co, maybe you should start a new dedicated thread/discussion here. Tell us more!

Dec 07, 2013
goodbot in Cheese

mail order cheese?

Somehow I was introduced to Gerard Paul’s mail-order cheese business around 1972~73 (I was 14~15 and my epicurean curiosities in life were just starting to bud). I lived in Island Park, NY, and Paul’s operation at that time was from the neighboring town of Freeport, NY (about ~7 miles away). Despite the proximity of his warehouse, I was too young to drive (by a year) so I never visited his operation. Like everyone else here, Paul essentially introduced me to the world of epicurean cheese – before him (in my suburban neighborhood ~30 miles outside of NYC) the only other place around where one could buy cheese fancier than typical deli selections was the Hickory Farms store at the local mega-mall (which featured exotic stuff like Smoked Gouda and Sharp Vermont Cheddar Cheese). By 1970’s American sensibilities (where “Big is Better)”, Paul’s product offerings were micro-sized… typically specially prepared/packaged 3 or 4 oz pieces (occasionally even 1 or 2 oz pieces!). This followed (and extended) an innovative marketing idea probably introduced by Hickory Farms – take any cheese (even the commodity stuff at the deli counter), re-package it in smaller “more special” wrapping, add an enticing description on the package, and sell it for 2 or 3 times more than the commodity version. Paul took this idea to an extreme… and it proved to be his ultimate undoing. We’ll probably all remember how totally enticing sounding Paul (or his resident copy-writing pros) made every offered piece of cheese sound… you just HAD to have it… and how lucky any of us were to score some of these ‘truly’ rare cheeses at such ‘reasonable low’ prices… Paul’s success & popularity eventually grew the market for higher-end cheeses at more higher-end retail shops. In the NYC metro area, if you shopped this market it soon became clear that you could score anything Paul offered at much lower $ costs, in much larger pieces. I recall an incident where I became very angered over a purchase from Paul - for one or another cheese he had gone on about how rare it was, what a bargain his high prices were, etc, etc. One Fall Saturday afternoon in 1974 or 75 I’m strolling along Columbus Avenue on Manhattan’s upper West Side, popping in and out of all the fancy food shops looking for cheese bargains – practically all of the “rare” expensive stuff from Paul was all over the neighborhood in any quantity desired for prices about 1/5th of his. Nowadays as an adult I’d laugh over this and get over it quickly – back then as a quick-tempered (not-too-rich) teenager I was steaming mad over this. I recall writing angry letters to Paul over his essentially BS product descriptions and demanding a refund (or credit for his over-pricing)… I never received a reply and never did business with him again. Eventually the weekly sales pitches stopped coming in the mail. A year or two later I read in the local county newspaper (Newsday) that either the NY State or Nassau County Dept of Consumer Affairs had hit Paul with a heavy $ fine over his deceptive advertising practices (they may have even arrested him or closed down his shop). The article mentioned that these departments were being inundated with local consumer complaints against Paul’s marketing hyperbole and crooked misrepresentations. That image got me a good laugh then as a kid (it offered me a vicarious measure of justice I never scored with Paul myself), and it still gives me a laugh today. It may have taken the Exotic Cheese phenomena in the US (that Paul was surely a major, perhaps the main, promoter of) longer to arrive out in America’s heartland, and during these earlier days Gerard Paul’s mail-order company may have been the only option. Eventually, maybe quickly, Paul’s success caught up with him… more & more small town markets (even supermarkets!) began offering the same stuff as his at way lower prices. I never kept any of his many sales pieces, but I’d like to see them again today… compare his descriptions and prices with today’s latest available products & prices (I bet that 40 years later now he’s still over-priced… ha-ha!). If anyone out there still has these, I encourage you to scan these and share them (somewhere) on the net. This forum posting has posts almost 10 years old mixed in with others much more current (2012-09). Mention is made above that there’s no findings of Gerard Paul on any of the net search engines. Searching NOW all these years later (with the ever improving Google search engine database), there IS a “Gerard Paul” showing up as a cheese (“fromage”) dealer in France… I’d guestimate that Paul was 40ish back in the early/mid 1970’s, so we’re looking at 80ish today… It’s possible he’s running a cheese shop in France (Gerard Paul, 9 rue des Marseillais, Aix-en-Provence, France, 13100), but it’s also possible some equally conniving younger guy “borrowed” this infamous cheese name to make some sort of a new mark (again) in the cheese world. Good Luck to him… right?

Goodbot

Sep 26, 2012
goodbot in Cheese