An important part of my family history is the Rensch & Company building and business that sits at 607 Monroe St., Toledo, OH. This building was first occupied by my Great-Great Grandfather who came over from Switzerland and brought the Swiss culture to Toledo via the universal language - imported cheeses, wines, chocolates - the good stuff. Now, this was way before Amazon prime so it was truly extraordinary and The Rensch Family specialized in these unique products that reminded Toledoans of the Old World. At Christmas time (and any time really), they made wonderful gift boxes for corporate gifts, hostess gifts, or anyone that wanted a box of amazing lovely delicacies. A true gift. They were in these gold and silver boxes that were classy, memorable and artfully assembled and just seemed to coax, "Hey open me, tasty treats inside."
I loved this store.
We all did. We all do.
I remember going there as a kid and being so excited to try new things and seeing what Nana had for us. Tiger cheese (it was Gruyere, but it had a Tiger on it so we called it Tiger cheese), hard salami with the rind on it, and the rum-filled cordials. Heaven. The good stuff.
With 3 floors and a basement (and no iPads or wifi) we explored and played at the store and had just the best time. We all had our favorite games. For my spreadsheet-loving big sister, it was bookkeeping in the office with the vault and register receipts. I personally preferred to play chef, so I could eat more of all the delicious things. For my little sister, her favorite was pretending to be a dog to keep watch over the store. But we all played together. The main floor was where all the action was, with long, gorgeous, glass cases of FOOD! And not lunchables. Not go-gurt. The good stuff. The back held the office and the cooler where the cheeses and meats were stored longer term (that Rensch & Co smell). The upstairs were eventually offices for my aunt to practice law in, but originally had a dumbwaiter and a potbelly stove which were once used for production. If you were brave, you headed up to the third floor, where you tiptoed carefully around and not too far so as not to get eaten by the monsters or ghosts. It was a big open space with bare light bulbs, and layers and layers of wallpaper - 3 big looming doors at the back. This was a hotel way back but was not used as long as I have been around. The basement was where we would scare ourselves to pretty close to death and there was even a hand made coffin down there. Think about the creepiest place that you have ever felt compelled to explore. That's it. The good stuff.
The store had a wonderful smell to it. Sometimes my sisters and I might be somewhere and we can all say simultaneously, "It smells like Rensch & Company in here!" and that's a good thing. Or if there is a great cheese board at a charcuterie, I immediately am taken back to this wonderful store.
For me, I grew up there. My love of food and German culture was influenced in a very big way by my Nana and our Rensch heritage. This store means a lot to so many people, and I wanted to share just a small part of what it meant and means to me.
Thank you Nana - you have been the driving force at the store while I have been around. Your endless energy and positivity have made this place a success and a permanent fixture in our hearts and minds. Cheers to you and your marvelous-ness. You even waited for the right new owner and would not let someone take over this store that didn't fit your standards and vision. We leave it now in good hands and look forward to seeing it's renewed chapter. Read more about the plans for the store here.
God Bless A. Rensch & Company and the memories it has for me and my family.
That is truly the good stuff.