When Wendy Beisel’s husband first suggested pickles might be a perfect commodity to offer for sale in the shop they planned to open at the base of Pikes Peak, she thought he might be joking.
But, as evidenced by the 4-foot-tall animated “Mr. Pickle” painting that now marks the store’s exterior, he wasn’t.
The Pikes Peak Pickle Shack, which opened in August at 4675 Fountain Ave. in Cascade, offers a dozen different types of pickles, from the standard dill and bread-and-butter varieties to the unconventional candied pickle sticks and spicy garlic pickle chips.
“We just knew it would work,” said Beisel, who lives in Cascade with her husband. “Everybody loves pickles. . I can’t count the times I’ve just heard people yell out, ‘Pickle shack!’ They’re so excited.”
The shop is aptly named. The interior – lined with beetle-kill pine handpicked from a lumberyard in Woodland Park and rustic sheet metal that was once part of a barn – measures about 80 square feet.
In addition to pickles, the shelves are stocked with other delicacies, including jars of fruit cobbler, sweet potato butter, avocado tomatillo salsa, blueberry jalapeño preserves and pickled okra and quail eggs.
The store is located in a strip of miniature, vacant retail units near the turnoff on U.S. 24 to The North Pole theme park. Wendy’s son Kalan Beisel plans to open a coffee shop this summer in the largest of the spaces, which previously housed a jerky shop that closed at the beginning of September.
The other units have been home to outdoor tour and equipment rental businesses – but all shuttered their doors during the colder months.
“Our goal is to keep our doors open year-round and make it a community hot spot,” said Kalan Beisel, who lives in Colorado Springs.
While tourists make up much of the Pickle Shack’s clientele, Wendy has several recurring customers who live in the area. The shop is also a hit with cyclists, who often eat pickles or drink pickle juice for the sodium content.
Colorado Springs resident Joe Helvoigt, who visits the store a few times a month, prefers pickles to sports drinks to provide salt that will help him retain water during the 12- and 14-hour mountain bike races he competes in.
“It tastes fabulous,” he said. “Definitely well worth the trip.”
Business is best when the weather is warmer or the theme park is open, Wendy Beisel said. During Labor Day weekend, she sold dozens of products each day.
“The challenge is going to be the dead of winter,” she said.
With no other employees, Wendy staffs the shop on her own during its operating hours – typically daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. On quieter days, she works on her artwork in the neighboring unit, where scraps of cardstock and poster board are piled in a box beneath a large desk. Six years ago, she began making collages, most of which depict elements of nature or animals. Much of her work is commissioned, but two of her pieces – one of Canada geese taking flight and another of a landscape – hang behind the small counter she sits at in the Pickle Shack. She’s also the artist behind Mr. Pickle, who greets customers with a cartoonish smile when they arrive.
“For me, it’s the best of both worlds,” she said.
*Note: This article was originally published in the Colorado Springs Gazette in December of 2016.
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