If you are unfamiliar with Ellen G. Kidd and her Richmond Pin Money Pickle empire, know this-she was an inspirational woman entrepreneur who was well ahead of her time. Starting out in 1868 when she was only sixteen years old, Kidd made pickles according to her grandmother’s recipe in her parents home. She began by selling to friends to make a little extra “pin money” and winning multiple blue ribbons at the Virginia State Fair. “Pin-Money” was a term at the time to describe a small sum of money and was frequently used to refer to an allowance given to a woman from her husband for clothing and other personal expenses.
According to Richmond’s Culinary History: Seeds of Change by Maureen Egan and Susan J. Winiecki, four years later an order came in from Seattle, Washington for five barrels of pickles (150 gallons). “She thought it was a mistake and sent the customer five gallons. She received a telegram: ‘Barrels, barrels, five. Could eat five gallons by myself.’” By 1919, Ellen G. Thompkins Kidd was running a pickle processing plant at 1500 West Marshall Street that produced one thousand barrels a day-a long way from making small batches of the family’s recipe for gherkins at home. Clearly Mrs. Kidd didn’t need to rely on any “Pin Money” allowance from her husband. She had built a pickle empire, was one of Richmond’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, and reinvested her fortune in real estate throughout Richmond.
Kidd was also a charter member and treasurer of the Virginia League of Women Voters, and active in the women’s suffrage movement via the 19th Amendment. In 1932 Kidd was the only female member of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, and served on the board for Sheltering Arms Hospital for more than twenty years. According to Richmond’s Culinary History: Seeds of Change Kidd said: “‘I think I must have been the original woman drummer.’ Only she used pickles rather than drumsticks.”
Telling the Inspirational Pin Money Pickle Story Through Action
We thought that Kidd’s inspirational story was one worth not only retelling, but putting into action through a relaunch of her iconic Pin Money Pickle brand. And what better place to set up a craft pickling operation than at the Siegel’s development-once Richmond’s largest and most expensive to construct grocery store. Our plan is to bring back the Pin Money line of pickles that included gherkins, mixed, bur-gherkins, onions, cauliflower, martynia, walnuts, melons, peaches, pears, chow-chow, melon mangoes, cucumber mangoes, bur mangoes, & pepper mangoes. We hope to complement that old line with our own new additions of okra, beets, kosher dill, beer pickles, bourbon brined & moonshine brined pickles.
In relaunching Pin Money Pickles, we have applied to reserve the trademark, and hope that we can breathe new life into this once famous Richmond brand. We also hope that Pin Money Pickles, Climax Beverage Co, and several soon to be announced food/beverage purveyors, can work together to give the old Siegel’s building purpose once again. Our plan is to create a City Market/Food Hall destination point that showcases Richmond‘s food and beverage brands that bring interest, investment, tax dollars, and jobs to the area. You can follow Pin Money Pickles Facebook and Instagram accounts for updates.
Credit : Richmond’s Culinary History: Seeds of Change by Maureen Egan & Susan Winiecki