Small Business Month Spotlight: Interview with Abbey Woodcock, Callee1945

To celebrate the Seller Community’s Small Business Month we are taking the time to highlight some of our great Community members. 


Abbey Woodcock, @Callee1945, took the time to tell us about Callee1945, a specialty cheese shop in Oneida, New York. Alongside a career in digital marketing, Abbey was inspired to start her business by her late grandfather who started Callee Farm in 1945. Abbey’s passion is to "share the work of passionate specialty cheese and food makers throughout the country and the world".


Read on to learn more about how it all began! 

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Why did you start your business? 


My grandfather, Calvin Janes, started Callee Farm in 1945. He would never have used this word, but he was a serial entrepreneur. He had a taxi service, he was a Star Route Mail Contractor for the United State Postal Service, he did landscaping, and he was Co-founder of Oneida-Madison Milk Producers Co-Op.


I have really fond memories of spending time on the farm as a kid. The smell of raw milk or even raw milk cheese brings me right back to my childhood. Sometimes when customers ask what a cheese tastes like, I'll answer “being a kid.” To me, that fresh raw milk taste is similar to what other people may feel when they bite into a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. 


With all that said, I never had any grand vision of being involved in the dairy industry. For the last 10 years, I’ve run a digital marketing and copywriting company and four years ago, I started the Freelance Co-op here in Oneida. I’ve always loved dairy and cheese, but didn’t think of starting a business around it until a few years ago.


My entire adult life, I’ve been what some people call a “foodie.” I love being at restaurants, spending time with “food people.” Some of my best friends are chefs and/or restaurant owners. Years back, I happened upon a YouTube video about artisan cheese and got hooked after that. I was really interested in the craft of cheese and the amazing things that people around the world were doing with really simple ingredients.


Then, in early 2019, I became friends with Annie Wadsworth from the Bagel Grove in Utica. I LOVE her business. It’s a community space, a place that celebrates artisan food and local produce. Her kids (who happen to be the same age as my kids) are deeply involved in the business. The first day we met I told her I wanted her business!


Then in 2020 I got serious about making this happen. I traveled to California to speak with artisan cheese makers, tour cheese shops and creameries throughout the state, and speak with chefs who use artisan cheese in their restaurants. That’s when Callee1945 began.


A speciality cheese board from Callee1945A speciality cheese board from Callee1945


Why did you choose Square for your business?


I wanted a solution that was easy to learn yet robust in its options. We're a hybrid online and brick and mortar business and Square had the best of both worlds - a POS system that was simple to use PLUS a great, easy-to-use website and inventory management.


What is your least favorite about running a business?


My least favorite part of running a business is the necessity to become an expert in every aspect of the business...with a small team I need to be intimately familiar with purchasing, taxes and licensing, food safety, construction, equipment maintenance, and so much more!


How do you connect to your local community? 


Downtown Oneida has so many exciting things happening right now and is quickly becoming a destination community. We are really excited to be a part of that growth, especially since it’s my hometown and where my grandparents were anchors of the community.


I serve on the Greater Oneida Chamber of Commerce, The United Way of Mid-Rural NY, and the Oneida Downtown Revitalization Committee. I'm passionate about growing this community and bringing unique food and drink offerings to a small town where it's often difficult to find.


Do you host any events at your business, or participate in community events?


Yes we host cheese classes, board-making events, and special holiday events regularly. We also host a booth at local charity events and our favorite event of the year is the Little Falls Cheese Festival - the largest gathering of NY cheesemakers in the state! It's held the first Saturday in October each year.


How do you build a sense of community among your team?


We have a small, lean team of passionate foodies so a big team-building routine is tasting and discussing new products as they come in. Everyone loves brainstorming how to use unique ingredients!


Thank you so much Abbey! Order cheese or plan your next visit to Callee1945 online. Follow @Callee1945 on social media.

Helen is a Seller Community Manager at Square and is the editor of the Seller Community Blog. She writes about small business and the owners & entrepreneurs that are a part of the Seller Community.

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