Pickles And The Grinding Truck-Brooklyn Small Business
I love where I live, row after row of historic homes, Mom and Pop businesses, a real sense of community and pride in our neighborhood. Brooklyn, NY, specifically the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods were a well kept secret, not so much anymore, people are moving in by the droves, housing prices have skyrocketed and with that many of the small shops we cherish are no longer able to stay in business because of high rent. I decided to feature two small businesses that still hold onto time honored traditions and offer products and services as they did in bygone days.
Clinton Hill Pickles is a tiny shop at 431 Classon Avenue. The proprietor, Pat is surrounded by barrel after barrel of pickles, pickled beets, sauerkraut and other wonderful products that she either makes herself or has other artisans make for her. She greets you with a smile, offers you a pickle to taste and remembers who you are. You see, Pat has been in the pickle business almost all of her life, some of you may know about the lower east side of Manhattan and the wonderful array of foods that you can purchase from pickles to bialy’s to knishes. Pat ran the family pickle business, the famous Guss’ Pickles on Orchard Street until she had to close shop, so she decided to make the move to Brooklyn. The pickles and pickled vegetables are in barrels, reminiscent of old times, I always think of the movie “Crossing Delancey” and the pickle man (great movie!). I remember the shop on the lower east side, it was so charming and I was happy to find her so close to where I live. After looking in each barrel, containing sour pickles, half sours, hot pickles, fresh pickles (very crisp), it was hard to decide, but I finally chose some sour pickles, beets, sauerkraut, homemade sweet pickle relish and some real deli mustard. I can’t believe how good it all is, each item home made no additives and everything is made with love and care.
If you live in Brooklyn or are just visiting stop in and see Pat, you’ll be glad you did!
Every month or two the green grinding truck arrives on my block, ringing a bell, announcing that he is here to sharpen your knives, scissors,or even lawnmowers. Bob’s Grinding Services has been in business, using the same truck for years and years. He rings his bell to let you know he is there and stops mid block so people can bring their items for sharpening. His name isn’t Bob, I actually think it could be Henry, he greets everyone with a smile and happily sharpens whatever you bring to him, you can tell he loves what he does and it makes me smile when I see and hear his truck moving slowly down the street. We are all so busy with our contemporary lives, and seeing these businesses that are basically doing things the same way they were done many, many years ago makes me want to slow down and remember kinder, gentler times. He was here on Saturday and sharpened my chef’s knife and paring knife and did such a great job, I could split a hair!!
There’s something to be said for urban living when you see what wonders are at hand. I haven’t seen a grinding truck like that since the 1940’s – 50’s, as a child in the suburbs of Washington DC. At that time there were no stores nearby, and a ‘store bus’ came to our neighborhood (entered by a still unpaved road), with convenience grocery shopping (even produce, I think). All gone now, just close-in suburban density. Wonderful to see it in the present!
Thank you Susan, I love seeing and hearing the grinding truck and the pickle lady it brings back memories of the milkman, even Charles Chips used to deliver tins of potato chips. It does a heart good I think to remember these things and got word today another small boutique store, Carols Daughter shuttered her store in the neighborhood. So sad!
There is such a homey comfortable town atmosphere at your place 🙂
A far cry from bustling cities and stranger neighbours – I love it!
Choc Chip Uru
Despite “progress” we still work hard to maintain the small town feel in our community. It’s funny because it’s just a short distance from Manhattan and when you come to the neighborhood the difference is palpable. Another small business closed today, it’s very sad seeing these business go they are being replaced with large businesses with deep pockets. Thanks so much!
This is so great, Suzanne! I’ll be sure to visit the pickle store next time I come to town.
Thanks so much Bevi, I really love her pickles, the beets are incredible but the sauerkraut is out of this world!! I really hope she can afford to stay in business, it’s hard her location is not the best, kind of off the beaten path. I am trying to get her some press so more people will venture over there and give it a try. I am phobic about canning myself, her prices are so low it’s almost cheaper to buy than do it yourself.
This made me think of my mom. She used to work in a pickle factory as a teenager. She also used to slice them lengthwise and dip them in pepsi and suck out the pickle soda juice and eat it like that. Sounds kinda gross but is actually really good. Two out of the three kiddos could live off pickles like their momma!
Pickles and Pepsi, believe it or not my Mom did the same thing but she used Tab (her idea of a diet I guess) I just adore the old time artisans and so appreciate the care and pride they put into the product.