House of Wisconsin Cheese closed it's doors on State Street this week. It had been a Peschel family business until Mike Peschel, Erin and Katie's dad died in 1995. Before that, it had belonged to their grandpa, Jim Peschel, Sr.
The girls grew up playing in the upstairs of the old store but they also learned how to cut and wrap cheese and make gift boxes and party cheese trays. Most importantly, they learned how to wait on customers. They could answer any question related to cheese, ring up sales and make change by the time they were 8 years old. They didn't understand why people would smile but not really take them seriously. Being nice to people was absolutely necessary because the business needed them to survive. In the old store, their grandpa had sold toilet paper and cat food along with cheese gift products...because that's what people bought! When Mike took it over, he pulled all of those products off the shelves and moved to a more streamlined speciality store. Yet, making a living was not possible without adding something other than cheese so he added deli sandwiches. Then the girls learned how to do the daily prep necessary for such a venture.
Every day was a challenge. What will sell? What needs to go? It was a journey like any other that had it's moments of celebration and moments of utter despair. In the end, the girl's dad left parting words that said "No matter what you do with your life, don't go into retail." It was too hard to make it successful!
15 years ago, another person bought the business with confidence and a dream. He believed that he had the right mix and could make the House of Wisconsin Cheese a success. For 15 years he battled with the same demons...What will sell? What should go? He felt that Mike's spirit lived in the store. But this week, without official notification, he closed the door and walked away!
Erin and Katie and I had the chance to walk through the store one last time. With saddness we looked at abandoned memories. We had always thought that perhaps Mike's spirit lingered in the store. Perhaps he helped it to survive for 15 more years. Now it is a picture of random clutter. For 15 years, each of us would periodically visit, holding on to the spirit perhaps! We have come to believe that everything happens for a reason. We look for the lesson in each occurance. What is the lesson here?
For 15 years, the three of us have moved on but also battled with thoughts of why their dad chose to leave. Still for 15 years, all three of us have taken our turn at calling out to his spirit to help with something. The clutter of the store feels now like the clutter of our thoughts trying to work through tough times in our lives. Perhaps we are supposed to realize that Mike Peschel does not have the answer nor does he now, in his spirit world, have some super power that he didn't possess here on earth! Perhaps he has been trying to tell us that. Perhaps we are supposed to let him go so that he can move on. Perhaps the message that we are supposed to carry away from our journey back to this store is...
It's time to close the door!