South-Western - Management  
Not Your Grandfather’s Pickle
Topic Entrepreneurship
Key Words Entrepreneurship, trends,
News Story 

Rick Field, a Yale graduate and former TV producer for Bill Moyers, has accomplished an unlikely feat. He has spearheaded the popularity of a new pickling movement with the introduction of his Brooklyn-based Rick’s Picks. Fields learned pickling as a boy in Vermont and enjoyed it as a hobby. About eight years ago, Fields took family recipes and began experimenting. He used new flavors and essences inspired by the ethnic food fusion trend to develop new, offbeat pickle flavors. After winning honors at two Pickle Festivals, when his job with Moyers came to an end in 2003, Fields decided it was time to turn his hobby into a business.

Fields began by selling his pickles at the Union Square Green Market in Manhattan and on his Web site. When he got noticed by New York magazine and Food & Wine, success followed. The challenge was in converting his passion into a successful business without losing the personal touch. The first year, he made a lot of mistakes. He had to throw away a huge batch of brine that was too vinegary. He wasted $1,000 on labels that were not refrigerator-proof and he chose square jars that were distinctive, but didn’t work in the labeling machines, causing him to have to hand-label 3,000 jars of pickles.

After that first tough year, Field’s sales have increased 200%. He sells 10 varieties online and in specialty stores. Fields was at the start of a trend. In the past five years, pickling has made a comeback. Current trends that favor artisanal products, unprocessed foods, and ethnic flavors have spurred the pickle’s rise in popularity. The new pickle vendors are experimenting with flavors and varieties. Four years ago, the New York Museum hosted their first annual International Pickle Day. 2,500 people attended the first year. This year 6,000 attended.

Questions
1.

Successful entrepreneurs tap into prevailing trends to forge successful business opportunities. What are the trends that led to the pickle’s popularity? What are at least three ways that current trends can be researched?

2.

Rick Fields is profiled in the article as a successful entrepreneur who took a passion and made it into a viable business. What “ingredients” did Rick have that led to his success? List at least three attributes, qualities, or techniques he used that helped him to be successful.

3.

A good entrepreneur must act quickly when the opportunity to be successful in a business venture presents itself. However, they also have to balance the need to act quickly with a plan. What are some things that Rick learned the hard way? How might he have avoided some of these problems?

Source “Not Your Grandfather’s Pickle,” BusinessWeek Online, Nov. 21, 2005, pNA.
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