KENOSHA -- Wisconsin said goodbye to one of its iconic stores on Wednesday, July 31. If you haven't been to it, you've probably driven by it. After more than 70 years along the interstate in Kenosha County, Bobby Nelson Cheese Shop is no more.
It was never the big cheese of the intersection of I-94 and Highway 142, but that never bothered the scrappy Bobby Nelson Cheese Shop. They offered more than enough to wrestle people into their doors.
"Customers would come through the door and say, 'Oh my gosh! This store is so small!' However, it was packed full," said manager Sheri Schaefer.
You wouldn't know that now by looking around, there's not a slice of Muenster or an ounce of summer sausage to be had. The shelves and coolers bare; only memories and flowers left.
Phyllis Giovanelli was just a girl when the original owner, Bobby Nelson, opened the joint. She'd sit in the parking lot watching customers come and go.
"One day Bobby and Lou went like this... and I've been here ever since," said Giovanelli.
She'd dust, stock shelves, clean bathrooms, and before she knew it, Giovanelli owned the place -- that was 1978. She was smart enough to not change a thing. Everything stayed the same.
"One day they came up with the idea that happy little pigs turned into sausage... and cows giving away cheese... he did it for the little kids but the adults loved it more," Giovanelli said.
Like Giovanelli, manager Sheri Schaefer started at the cheese shop as a girl. She retired with mixed emotions.
"It's been glorious," said Schaefer. "We've had customers from every state in the nation. They've been coming to wish us well. Hugs from customers, tears from customers."
At any given time, 100 types of cheeses were on sale and the bacon was worth the tolls for customers to come from the south.
"This shop was definitely a little gem. For people who people who missed out on it, they really missed out on a good one," said Schaefer.
Like the products they sold, the store too had an expiration date. The "new" owners of 41 years, decided it was time. For days, it's been all about goodbyes. Giovanelli and her husband will get to enjoy more than a day at a time at their place up north. They've earned that slice of life.
"We got a lot of beautiful memories," said Giovanelli. "I don't think we'll ever forget 'em."