DIRT: A Modern Market
DIRT is a full-time retail store owned and operated by ...
Gibbs' Cheese and Sausage opened at Findlay Market in 1922 as a butter and egg stand. Today, Jeff Gibbs still sells butter and eggs, as well as lunchmeat, cheese, sausage, natural peanut butter, Amish jams, homemade noodles, and dozens of flavors of fudge. Jeff is generation number five in this family business, which has its roots in a general store in Fairview, Indiana. Jeff still has record books from the 1850's kept by his great-great grandfather, James Edward Gibbs.
Jeff's great-grandfather, also named James Gibbs, expanded the store's business by selling butter and eggs on packet boats, which traveled up and down the Ohio River. The butter and egg trade went particularly well in Cincinnati, so Jeff's grandfather (also named James Gibbs!) moved to Cincinnati to open a store on Sixth Street, and soon after moved to a stand in The Sixth Street Market. The Sixth Street Market stand was open until that Market was torn down in 1960. In 1922, he opened a second location at Findlay Market. Today the Gibbs stand is decorated with some of the tools his family used at that time: a butter churn, a butter tub, a manual cheese slicer, a balance scale, and thick wooden boxes to transport cheese.
Jeff's father started working at Findlay Market in the 1930's and when he retired, in 1982, Jeff took over his share of the business. Jeff's Uncle Russ, another life-long merchant, was still a co-owner. Russ was in charge of butter and eggs and Jeff was in charge of meat and cheese. When Jeff bought out his uncle a few years later, he continued to expand the business.
Jeff's all-natural peanut butter has only one ingredient: peanuts. Even without salt or sugar, the flavor is amazing. The Amish jams and jellies to go with the peanut butter come from Fredericksburg, Ohio. The Amish noodles are Mrs. Miller's brand, made by a real Mrs. Miller. Jeff also sells honey and pure maple syrup.
At any given time, you'll find about twenty to twenty-five different kinds of Clare’s Famous Fudge at the stand. The selection changes often, and over the course of the year Jeff offers 125 different flavors in all. The cheesecake varieties he developed himself, using cream cheese instead of butter. The two most popular flavors, chocolate walnut and peanut butter, are available all the time. The peanut butter fudge is made with Jeff's all-natural peanut butter.
Besides the fudge Jeff also makes Home Roasted Turkey Breast in two delicious flavors, the Soon To Be Famous Roast Beef, homemade bagel chips, flavored whipped butters, and flavored cream cheeses.
One thing that hasn't changed in the history of the Gibbs family business is the fresh butter. It still comes to the market like it always has, in 55-pound blocks. You can easily tell from looking at the butter that the cows at the dairy farm have an all-natural diet. In the summer the butter is almost white, because the cows feed on grass when they're living outside. In the winter, when they're in the barn, they feed on grain, which makes a more yellow butter.
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