- Company: Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles
- Owners: Lynnae Schneller and Aly Cullinae
- Asking Price: $125,000 for 20% equity
- Final Deal: None
- Shark Who Took The Bait: None
- Season/Episode: Season 5, Episode 1
Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles Before Shark Tank
Lynnae Schneller and Aly Cullinae are sisters-in-law from Tacoma, Washington. They are privy to a 100-year-old secret recipe for sweet pickles, handed down by Lynnae’s great-grandmother, nicknamed “Grandma Toots.”
They’re so invested in sharing Great-Grandma Toots’ pickles with the country that they’ve quit their jobs and put everything on the line for the brand they’re calling Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles. They’ve decided to apply for Shark Tank because they need additional capital to handle the growing demand for their specialty pickle product.
Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles On Shark Tank
Lynnae and Aly approached the stage, introduced themselves, and wasted no time asking for $125,000 in exchange for a 20% stake in their company, Linnae’s Gourmet Pickles. They stated that specialty foods are among the fastest-growing categories in the U.S. and that they believe there’s a niche to be filled with gourmet specialty pickles.
The pair had launched in 2011 and had quick success. In fact, orders were coming in faster than they could fulfill them. They need to partner with a shark who can provide the funding necessary to improve their production process..
Lynnae then passed around their two pickle flavors: Mrs. Pickles (the original with a crunchy-sweet-n-sour taste) and Hot Mama (the original with a kick of jalapeno).
The sharks asked about the numbers. What were their sales, and how much did it cost? Lynnae and Aly had sold $144,000 worth of pickles within the last 12 months, which amounted to 36,000 jars of pickles. Each jar retailed at $6.99, the wholesale price was around $4.00, and cost $1.93 to make. The entrepreneurs admitted there are stores that want the product but they don’t have the money to fulfill the orders.
Barbara asked where the pickles were being sold. The women said that the brand was being sold in 26 states, in over 200 locations. They were using the largest specialty food distributor in the U.S. to get the pickles on shelves. Barbara seemed impressed.
Mark seemed to struggle with the reason why he should invest. He wanted to know what was the real difference between their pickles and others. Barbara felt like the two women were what made the difference. She asked what they do to market the product.
Lynnae and Aly mention an annual pickle hunt in their city that received press both locally and nationally. They planned to do this every year.
Kevin and Barbara had some concerns. Kevin wondered how he would make money from this and Barbara asked how they could scale it. The women said they had a meeting scheduled with Target the following month, and that Target had reached out to them because they had just recently started to stock food in their stores and were looking to fill the specialty foods niche.
Kevin was still doubtful that they would be able to pull it off with a big retailer, but Lynnae told him they’re already selling in Target.
Robert wasn’t convinced he’d heard the answer as to why their pickles were different than other jarred sweet pickles. Lynnae explained that their pickles were for a customer who was looking for gourmet pickles and admitted a jar of regular sweet pickles retails for half of their price. When Kevin learned of the price gap, he said he couldn’t see why Target would want to stock their brand if it costs twice the amount as regular sweet pickles. Lynnae tried to explain that their pickles were in a specialty niche and it’s specialty foods that are growing by more than 22%.
Lori interjected. She felt there was already enough competition, and she didn’t like sweet pickles. It wouldn’t be right to invest in a product she didn’t like. She dropped out.
Mark spoke up next. He greatly admired the two women and said they are creative and have hustle. But he thought that the brand was doing well now because they were too small to be noticed by bigger players. However, once they started growing, the bigger companies would notice and could more easily roll out a similar product at a lower price point. He didn’t see the potential for their brand, so he dropped out.
Lynnae listened to Mark’s advice, but she had something to say in answer to it. She knew that no food can be considered proprietary because someone could come in and create a similar product. However, their plan was to explode into the marketplace early, and get as much distribution as they could to establish themselves as a leader in the gourmet pickle category. And they did have interest from several large stores, she said.
Kevin wasn’t convinced. He outright told them they’re not worth $600,000, and that they won’t succeed in selling their product long-term at Target. He also decided he didn’t want pickles in his portfolio. He dropped out.
Aly tried to drive home the reason behind the brand. The two of them had a passion for bringing Lynnae’s great-grandmother’s recipe to the public, and based on how much the business had grown during the past two years, she felt their potential was unlimited.
With two sharks remaining, Robert spoke next. Although he felt they had done a great job so far, he questioned the idea of charging $7 for a jar of pickles. Also, since he was Croatian, and Croatians don’t like sweet pickles, he wouldn’t be the right investor to partner with. He was out.
It was Barbara’s turn to announce her verdict. She started by saying what they had sold in the first year was phenomenal. But she felt that they didn’t need any help. They were well on the road to success, and she didn’t want them to regret selling off a chunk of their business when there may be much greater potential in the future. She didn’t think they needed a partner, so she was the last shark to drop out.
Final Deal: None
Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles After Shark Tank
Lynnae and Aly didn’t find a shark partner to help them sell their pickles, but the pair committed to press onward. They did get limited press after their Shark Tank appearance and continued to sell the brand in over 3,000 stores, even though a crowdfunding effort did not take off at all.
In September, 2015, the company rebranded from Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles to Mrs. Pickles, in honor of Lynnae’s Great Grandma Toots, and presumably because Lynnae left the company. Aly Culinnane took over as President.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Pickles is nowhere to be found these days – except for small accounts on both Instagram and Twitter that haven’t been updated since 2017. There are many “Mrs. Pickles” Pages on Facebook, but none of them have anything to do with the sweet pickles from Tacoma, Washington. The brand no longer has a company website.
A few years ago, you could purchase the pickles on Amazon, but they’re not available anymore. Perhaps the brand tried to get big too quickly. There are several other small gourmet pickle companies that sell online, but they typically partner with a site that sells a wide selection of specialty or regional foods.
It’s a little sad that the legacy of Great Grandma Toots’ pickles will now be confined to the family and won’t reach the broader marketplace. But maybe the next generation can give it another try.
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