How to kill time the fun way

This blog is being penned from Gil’s Cafe on Milwaukee’s East Side. How does Milwaukee have an East Side, if it’s bordered on the east by Lake Michigan? A fascinating question. I think it’s because the direction is relative to the river, not to downtown. But I digress.

I’m here because I’m killing time while my wife goes to grad school. As it turns out, killing time is a lot of fun at Gil’s, mostly because they have two of my favorite beers (New Glarus Spotted Cow and Texas’ own Shiner Bock) and some rockin spinach artichoke dip. I learned to appreciate Shiner Bock while spending time in Houston as an Accenture employee. My advice to other first time visitors – enjoy the beer, but avoid sucking any crawfish heads. Trust me on this.

The aforementioned delicacies (beer and dip, not crawfish heads) were perfect complements for my detailing out the list of changes necessary to push ahead with our pregnancy-themed offerings. 45 minutes of web surfing tells me the pickle+pregnancy+baby market is horribly underserved (much like the monthly pickle market). With that in mind, here is my plan:

Step 1, itemized list of what needs to change (did this tonight)
Step 2, create the copy and upload the pictures to our staging site (Thursday).
Step 3, promote to the real site and test (Friday).
Step 4, sign up for Google AdWords advertising and see what happens (Fri-Sun)

I’ll do a separate post on Friday explaining our use of AdWords, because we think that’s a pretty powerful (and quantifiable) means for little guys like us to advertise like big companies.

Hopefully, our pickle pregnancy offering will be less controversial than Shiner Beer’s “Get Caught with Bock” campaign, where this image was found.

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Changing it up

There are a couple things worth noting in today’s blog regarding change. For one, I am changing jobs at the end of this week. Though this change is the right move career-wise, it’s no less difficult saying goodbye to the people I’ve worked with the last 5 ½ years. However, it does mean great news for POTM. My plan is to use the week off between current job and new job to bring the pregnancy theme to POTM. This means determining the new product bundles and branding, taking and editing product photos, updating the site copy for the new offering(s), and possibly incorporating a new pickle pregnancy t-shirt. I’m excited to finally have time for this, as it seems blog entry and pickle shipments are about all I had capacity for the last few months.

Another significant change will be the migration of our current site to the much-ballyhooed RoR implementation, which Doug will be managing. This will totally rock. Why? Because it will enable us to change themes, design, features, and copy much more efficiently than our current platform allows. My vision has POTM’s look and feel changing with each significant holiday – and even more than a few insignificant ones (Casmir Pulaski Day, anyone?). This variety will help keep the site fresh and different for recurring visitors, and make things a helluva lot more fun for us to change whenever we decide to get creative.

More to come this week about the results of our NCAA marketing endeavor…

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Bradley Braves, Beers, and Bellys

For all you Bradley fans out there in Chicago, we will be congregating at Belly’s tonight for the game. Click on this link to see where it is. First person to recognize Mike or I that doesn’t know us yet gets a free pickle.

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POTM loves BU

I write this blog during commercial breaks of Scrubs. The second episode on tonight is absolutely fantastic. If I spent the next 48 straight hours watching Scrubs and reading online articles about Bradley Braves basketball, and if every commercial was a different version of that new VW “Unpimp my ride”, I’d consider it 48 hours well spent.

But back to Bradley basketball. Un-BU-lievable! Not sure if we ever mentioned it in the blog before, but Doug and I both are Bradley alums and are self-admittedly addicted to reading every bit of news we can about our team at the moment. I’m losing my voice just thinking about all the yelling I’ll be doing Thursday night when they play…who’s that team again? Nashville? Whatever – doesn’t matter. If this article in a Detroit paper doesn’t make you an instant fan then don’t even bother seeing Hoosiers, Rudy, Field of Dreams, or any other heartwarming tale of sports glory. My San Francisco cousin Kate even emailed and said she had a floor ticket to the Oakland regional game if I could find a flight out there. After some quick research, I realized that was too pricey a proposition. But then an email from friend Sean got me thinking: what if I don’t fly out there, but POTM does? I.e., cousin Kate sports some blatantly pro Bradley/pro POTM gear and we bank on a CBS camera man giving this smartly clad super-fan a second or two of national tv time. That would be the best (and coincidentally only) advertising $$$ we’d ever spent!

Doug found a vendor, The Tshirt Deli in Bucktown, that did sameday shirts. I swung by this evening after work, and got two seriously pimpin shirts made for the princely sum of $40 each (you pay by the letter – here I thought our URL was just a pain in the ass to type). I’ll next day ship them to Kate tomorrow morning and keep my eyes glued to the TV Thursday night for them. Hey, it’s well worth it just for the 20,000 fans to see, let alone a shot at the whole nation.

Here’s a couple pics of the beauties, along with one of the forthcoming SI covers. I love how they come wrapped in butcher paper like deli meat. Great gimmick, and really nice people that work there. I have a feeling they thought “GO BU” was some sort of cute motivational phrase (Go, be you!). If you could design and order their stuff online they’d be shipping shirts like hotcakes…

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Don’t Hate Little Pepe

Comments trickled in over the last couple of weeks that people didn’t appreciate the Little Pepe pickle as much as his pickle brothers.

pepe_medium_extracted

Why hate Little Pepe I ask? Just because he’s a bit smaller, and a bit spicier, does not mean he doesn’t try just as hard to be a great pickle. Maybe the fault lies not in the pickle, but in the pickle preparation?

I thought that very thing Monday night as I bit into Mr. Little Pepe, and then the idea struck. Why not include this little spicy number in one of my favorite foods – turkey burgers! Without further ado, I happily present Pickle of the Month’s very first pickle recipe!

Little Pepe Spicy Turkey Burgers

Ingredients:

  1. One package ground turkey
  2. 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  3. 1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
  4. 8 shakes of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  5. 1/2 Litte Pepe, finely chopped

Instructions:

  1. Mix ingredients together in bowl
  2. Form delicious turkey burger patties
  3. Take a swig of the beer you’re drinking (you should be drinking, you’re making pickle burgers for goodness sake)
  4. Grill delicious turkey burger patties
  5. Enjoy! I like to have mine with ketchup and mustard, some enjoy barbecue sauce.
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The Greatest St. Patty’s Day Shirt Ever

As Mike mentioned in his previous post, our green “What a Stupid Idea” t-shirt made for one great St. Patty’s day shirt! Check out Megan sporting this beauty. Thanks for supporting us Meg!

potm_shirt

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Irish Pickles

This is a big week for redheads and pickle lovers: St. Patrick’s Day of course! We got things started early as usual here in Chicago, with a raucous celebration at the South Side Irish Parade on Sunday morning. Good weather (aka above freezing and not raining) just about quadruples the fun factor of this event, and when your friend Mike offers up a huge parking lot, plentiful indoor bathrooms, and hand-wrapped corned beef sandwiches for all, it’s impossible not to have fun. Unless of course you’re the uninvited punk he body-tossed out the back door.

For the first time in 5 years, I didn’t have to drive myself home, so needless to say this was my favorite parade in recent memory. Heck, I even got sunburned, which is hard to imagine given my carribean bronze irish skintone. You best believe I prominently wore an emerald green “Stupid Idea” tshirt the entire time, even if it meant drinking my beer through chattering teeth. Always Be Closing, that’s our motto! Oh wait, maybe that’s Alec Baldwin’s motto. Anyway, between my shameless advertising and Doug’s sister-in-law Megan’s proud patronage, we’ll surely double the website hits after this week.

Some photos from the big event…

The man next to me is a former Div. 1 athelete (granted, it was swimming)

Obviously some sort of South Side gang symbol

Nothing says St. Patricks day like a huge furry green cowboy hat and three not-so-sober friends

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Google enters word processing

This post has little to do with pickles, but it’ll grab your interest if you’re a geek anyway. Google bought Writely yesterday, launching a full frontal attack on Microsoft.

Writely is a very cool online word processor, that lets one, or many, people crank out word docs with no problem. We’ve used it a bit here at Pickle of the Month to work on our website copy together.

If this battle were in the old WWF, would Microsoft be the Andre the Giant and Google Jimmy Supefly Snuka?

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Belated Shout-Out

I want to throw a belated shout out to Kerstin Furneisen, our wonderful designer who came up with the POTM logo. It seems we never actually told her we ended up using her logo (a big oops! on our part). If you ‘d like to have Kerstin design some stuff for you, you can email her at gingersouffle@yahoo.com. She does great work.

Here’s a fun note for the weekend – if you happend to be swilling green beers in Chicago this weekend, keep your eyes peeled for a “What a Stupid Idea” POTM shirt. Our good friend Megan volunteered to wear it for a little publicity on St. Patties day. Thanks Megan!

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And that’s why you never Copy-Paste

If you’ve ever done any sort of programming or word processing, you know the seductive power of the Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V key combinations. All these words copied and pasted so quickly! This is more efficient than the ESPN Plays of the Week! I remember learning of this wondrous key combo in my first 2 weeks of training at Accenture. Teammate Jen from Manila was writing code at a ridiculous speed as I looked over her shoulder, and that’s when she told me. Why write your own words when someone else has already done it better!

Well, it came back to bite me here at POTM. Seems in writing my SQL queries to pull back recurring orders, I copied and pasted the date ranges for the orders I was seeking, and neglected to update the year in the process (thank you customer Mike for pointing it out late last week). Not a big deal, until you start getting to orders placed after January 1. When I first realized the gaffe, I was admittedly quite nervous. After some calm investigation, turns out the number of affected accounts was relatively small, with a small number of customers missing their February pickles. I packaged those additional orders today and will ship them tomorrow AM along with a note explaining the gaffe.

The moral of the story is, Copy-Paste can be a potent tool, but one that must be used with the utmost vigilance. Much like dijon mustard.

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