Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dreaming of Pickles

 No need to pull out my 1000 Things To Do in New York City book when our daughter, Katherine and her husband Andy came to town last week.  They arrived with an agenda, and there wasn't a single mega tourist stop on the list.

Forget glitzy Broadway shows, multi-hour wait in the Empire State Building line, double-decker bus tour, or eye-popping Matisse and Warhol at the Met.  They walked an unbeaten path to vegan restaurants, craft beer pubs, organic food carts, Soho side streets, game shops, the Brooklyn Brewery, and farthest-flung of all, Brooklyn Brine.  They graciously asked Drew and me to join them, if we could keep up, on the Brooklyn trek last Saturday.  (Little did they know that walking 8 miles is just a warm-up for us.)

Brooklyn Brine, at 574A President Street, was a total fascination to me - more the owner than the pickles.

Not that the pickles are anything less than the most uniquely flavorful I've eaten, but Shamus Jones' story is truly an inspiration.  Any creative person looking for the next excuse not to move forward with a dream, needs to talk to Shamus.  He made his dream happen.

Shamus was a vegan chef/consultant who, due to the financial woes of his employer, lost his job about 3 1/2 years ago.  His dream was to make and sell pickles, from his own recipes. Within 6 hours of leaving the consultant job, he was making his first batch of pickles.  He asked a friend who owned a restaurant, if he could make pickles in the kitchen at night, after closing hours.  The friend agreed.  Another friend loaned him $3000 at 17% interest, and he was off.  He worked long hours, put his earnings back into the business time and time again, even needed to share a working space with a butcher at one point.

"The brick and mortar store has really given us a presence," he explained as he doled out pickle samples - Maple Bourbon Bread and Butter, Whiskey Sour, Damn Spicy, along with Fennel Beets and Whiskey Barrel Sauerkraut.

"We're still a small operation; we make 1400 jars of pickles a day."  Even we could do the math, though, when he told us that Brooklyn Brine sold 200,000 jars of pickles last year at $8.00 a jar.  When he added that Whole Foods and William Sonoma are now his customers, I knew that he had made it.

Shamus didn't have a business plan, marketing firm or website designer the night he decided to begin making pickles.  He simply started.  Undoubtedly, experts in small business start-up, would have advised him to stop, consider the competition, look at the obstacles before cutting up that first cucumber.  Perhaps Shamus would have talked himself out of his dream. Thankfully, for pickle lovers and dream chasers, he didn't.

I'm learning that it's the doing, each day, that takes dreams from the idea to the pickle jar.  Not reading about doing, not making lists about doing, not listening to "knowledgeable voices" discourage me from doing -- but the actual doing.    

As a writer with manuscripts which have never received a response from the New York City publishing houses, but confidence that what I have to share is valuable, Shamus' story re-energizes me, encourages me to look beyond the box of traditional publishing. Where can my words find a venue?  What can I do to make that happen?  Waiting 6 to 9 months for a hoped-for, but never (yet) forthcoming response, won't get that first jar of pickles, or book, on the shelf.

I wonder about you, as you read this story. Do you have a dream that needs some of Shamus' inspiration? What helps move your dream from idea to pickle jar?          



  1. Love this post...and what a great day it was.

  2. I'll hang out with you and Andy any time!

  3. What fun!!
    Thanks for telling the story.

    When we come to New York, we want to go to Brooklyn Brine!

    Happy New Year!

  4. I recommend the Maple Bourbon Bread and Butter. . . and a tour by Shamus!


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