Today we’d like to introduce you to Simone Linsin.
Simone, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Germany (near Heidelberg) in a family with hospitality businesses: my grandparents had a butcher shop, my mother ran the catering unit, and my aunts owned the restaurant and cafe in the same building we all called home. We all loved good food, wine and traveling through Europe – I want to say that this amazing exposure at a young age shaped me for the rest of my life. My career path started out in the travel industry, I was a flight attendant for a German airline and studied tour operations. I met my husband, who is from the Black Forest area, on a language class in Italy. We happen to elope and got married on Nantucket and moved to the Boston area about 20 years ago.
When our son was born, we outgrew our carriage house in Newton and found a new home in Grafton, a quaint town, roughly an hour west of Boston. The travel industry had sort of collapsed after 9/11 and changed dramatically through internet use, so I was looking for a new path to go back to work: I started working Mom’s hours at a lovely Italian specialty shop in the area and rediscovered my passion for everything Italian and European – foods, wine, cheeses, anything authentic, handmade…It was very satisfying to work with customers on a personal level, making recommendations they would love and later come back for.
After 4 years I had participated in almost all store operations and decided I wanted to own my own shop! I had realized that customers loved the idea of European foods, particularly artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, and they appreciated being educated and getting recommendations. I decided to open a cheese shop (featuring more than just cheese!) and felt strongly about operating it in my new hometown of Grafton, MA. We quickly found a suitable space and, together with my husband and parents, worked for several months to create a small European store and environment, including exposed wooden beams, rustic brick walls, locally made wooden shelving, and cool lighting. It was extremely satisfying to see it coming along the way we envisioned it – or even better!
It felt good to work on your own project and finally open the doors to Pecorino – A country cheese shop, in September 2010. I was overwhelmed with the instant response of local customers, who quickly appreciated the unique shop, our carefully selected products, and personal service! A year later, I became an American citizen, which also allowed me to obtain a liquor license. We added a cozy wine room to the rear of the cheese shop and developed a wonderful relation customers who were looking to venture out into the wine world. All of this set the foundation of where I am with my business today! Going into our 8th year, I still feel the same enthusiasm and love for the shop and my customers.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It actually has been a smooth road! I am dedicated to what I want to do and will do it to the best of my abilities, I am a control freak and perfectionist (ouch!) and generally do my “homework” to make sure I am not missing anything. I strongly believe, if you set your heart and mind to something you really want to do, it can be achieved! It’s not easy and there are always challenges along the road, but you have to be willing to take risks – while always staying realistic!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Pecorino – what should we know?
Pecorino is a small cheese and wine shop: we carry about 60-80 cheeses depending on the season, a large selection of accompaniments (jams, spreads, and honey), organic olive oil on tap and fresh bread baked by Nashoba Brook Bakery in Concord MA. Our wine room features a pretty eclectic selection, mostly from small production, sustainable, family-owned wineries all over the world. We particularly enjoy introducing customers to new grape varieties they might have never heard of before – and overall, things that you don’t find everywhere else.
Customers can try and taste cheeses before they buy, and every piece is cut fresh to order. People come to us for recommendations and expertise. We love to share our passion! Our enthusiasm seems contagious and it is rewarding when customers feel that! Everyone knows everyone by name, and we ensure each time, that they walk out with a smile. Often I hear, that they’ll say they learn something every time they’re in our shop, how cool is that! In days where you have large markets and stores present at every corner, it is great to see that personal, friendly and attentive service can make a difference in where people shop.
Initially, when I started the business in 2010, I didn’t really know what to expect, I just followed an instinct and it worked. For years actually, some people in town were wondering “if I will make it” and “a cheese shop!!?” …The building my store is located at was kind of run down and had developed a reputation of “nothing has ever made it there”…I am a little proud I proved them wrong 😉
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My parents and grandparents played the most instrumental role in my life and my success, always demonstrating that hard work pays off and that most everything can be achieved if you really want it. During my flight attendant years, I learned a lot about working with the public and how to “read” people’s state of mind – it helps a lot when you’re in retail! I definitely benefited from my crew trainer, who was brilliant in giving me meaningful feedback and constructive criticism (which is not always easy to accept, right?)
I wanted to name Lorenzo Savona as a mentor, an extremely passionate and knowledgeable Italo-Francophile entrepreneur in the Boston area, who I had the pleasure to work with and learn from for several years. Finally, my favorite “cheerleader” is my husband who had no doubt I can do this and stands by my side and watches my back every day.
- Our cheese selection ranges between 14.95 and 36.95 a pound, wine starts at $10 a bottle, with a majority of price points being in the mid and upper teens, some twenties, and some gems between $30-110
- Address: Pecorino
135 Westboro Road (Rt 30)
North Grafton, MA 01536
- Website: www.pecorinografton.com
- Phone: 508-839-9200
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erb Photography, Worcester