The inspiring story of a man with a dream
Aaron Stern came to America from Austria, arriving with little more than a pushcart and a dream. He peddled other people’s pickles up and down Delancey Street, but quickly realized this gave him little competitive edge over other peddlers. He had bigger dreams. As his vision began to take shape, Aaron selected Farmingdale, NY as the site for his factory – a good choice because of its rich source of cucumbers and cabbages from the surrounding farmlands. Aaron was my husband’s grandfather.
In 1894 Aaron began making his daily commute on the LI Railroad from his home in Brooklyn to Farmingdale to watch his dream unfold, and actually cut the trees that stood for the next 90 years as the hand-hewn beams supporting the roof of the factory.
The building was large, both wide and deep. It was a red, barn-like structure with open shelves, which at first were filled sparsely with several varieties of pickles and sauerkraut. Gradually he added additional pickled products as hot peppers, tomatoes, onions and cauliflower along with other specialty items as olives, mustards, Maraschino cherries, ketchups and jams. As his reputation spread, so did his slogan, Pickle Products for Particular People. People traveled from many parts of the metropolitan area for a shopping expedition to Stern’s. Sundays were especially busy, with people arriving in droves and lined up outside, waiting their turn to enter. Often the crowds became so thick that the big sliding doors had to be rolled shut. People waited patiently outside for their turn to enter as other customers made their exits.
Shoppers rarely glimpsed the large area behind the store, but these back rooms held their own special mysteries. If you peaked inside, you might just catch a glimpse of men in high rubber boots, stamping their feet inside one of these huge vats as they trampled down the kraut.
One of Stern’s sauerkraut vats
The inspiring story of a great discovery
Before we were married, Ken took me on a tour of his family’s pickle factory. While poking around in a back room, we discovered something that would have looked like little more than junk to most, but we loved its history and saw a hidden beauty there.
Read this story to learn more about our discovery and what it has meant to us over the years.
Just a Pickle and a Chair continues in
TALES2INSPIRE ~ THE SAPPHIRE COLLECTION