WINCHESTER SPRINGS — The Cass Bridge Gift Shop still holds onto its “Cheese House” history while offering contemporary products.
And owner Barbara Barkley has been there for a significant slice of that history.
She began managing what was then Ault Foods’ well known Cheese House at Cass Bridge in 1986 and has made many changes since buying the establishment from the corporation (now part of Parmalat) back in 1993.
“I still sell some cheese but my main focus now are gift items. People’s buying patterns have changed so my product options had to change too,” she says.
The gift shop currently sells two kinds of cheese, Balderson and Mapledale. The County Rd. 31 establishment also carries a selection of gourmet food lines and other locally-made products like maple syrup and honey.
Back when she started, they sold mostly cheese and ice cream. Since then, they’ve done a full 180, offering mostly gifts and accessories.
“When Highway 416 was put in, it took a huge portion of Highway 31’s traffic, which in turn took our business traffic away,” Barkley explains, “and because of that changes needed to be made to keep this place running.”
She added a large assortment of purses, pictures, wall hangings, candles, general and seasonal gifts to the shop’s inventory.
“There is something here for everyone!” Barkley declares.
Ice cream is still a huge draw in the spring and summer months, with many out-of-towners making the drive every year.
“I love watching families come in. Especially the ones that have come here for years! I may not remember everyone’s name but I never forget a face!” she says. “I still love what I’m doing. I meet so many people.”
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the township’s 2019 Explore North Dundas Spring/Summer Resource Guide. The involved interviews took place in the first quarter of 2019.