Sandra Wheeler (left) and Noel Johnson sell their line of pickled products, Pickled Silly, at the South of the James Market. Photo by Isaac Harrell
That's a spicy pickle! Last spring, when Noel Johnson was attending a wedding in Charleston, she noticed pickled dilly beans being served on an elegant platter, and the next day she had a Bloody Mary with a pickled pepper. These yummy pickles sparked an idea, and she came home and started the company Pickled Silly with her friend Sandra Wheeler. After a year of processing classes and tinkering with recipes, the ladies now sell their pickled products at the South of the James Market. Wheeler creates the recipes and handles the production, while Johnson heads up marketing. Their core product line includes pickled carrots in a light tarragon brine, which pair well with salads or can be served alone as a snack. "A lot of kids like the pickled carrots," says Johnson. They also make pickled dilly beans and okra. Johnson claims the okra is their signature product. "It has lots of really good spices — onion flakes, habanero, black pepper, hot sauce and garlic," she says. "It's just really good stuff." Johnson and Wheeler have been taking cues from customers, too. "Customers were telling us that they were saving the brine and putting it in a martini," she says. This gave them the idea to use their okra brine for a Bloody Mary mix, which they will start selling at the South of the James Market this summer. You can also expect small signature batches this season. Think pickled fennel with orange slices, as well as pickled peppers, asparagus, garlic and even watermelon rind. Pickled products come in 16-ounce jars and are $8 each. For more information, visit pickledsilly.com . More Retailers Opening at Westchester Commons Chesterfield's newest outdoor shopping mall is going to feel even more up to date this coming season — the retail hub is welcoming seven new businesses this summer and fall. In May, Ski Center is relocating from Sycamore Square to Westchester Commons. Accents Unlimited, which carries home décor, collectibles, jewelry and Vera Bradley accessories, is opening in June. Also this summer, Kumon Learning Center, SportClips, Game On Sports Bar and Midlothian Family Practice will be opening, and in the fall, Minnieland Academy, a child-care program for tots to school-age kids will join them. The Midlothian retail hub, which opened in 2009, houses big-name stores such as Target, Office Max, Books-A-Million, JoAnn Fabrics, Regal Cinemas and a Gold's Gym, as well as smaller, specialty shops and restaurants, such as GameStop, Escape Massage, and Noodles & Company. For more information, visit westchester-commons.com . Pleasantly Expanding Pleasants Hardware is opening an eighth location in the Richmond area in mid to late August at the Midlothian Station Shopping Center at Midlothian Turnpike and Coalfield Road in Chesterfield County. "We are looking forward to being there, and have been looking at that area for a couple years," says James T. Hatcher III, president of Pleasants Hardware. "All the right things fell in place," he says, adding that residential density and heavily trafficked roads were key factors in their location decision. The store will boast 10,000 square feet of hardware heaven, comparable in size to its other locations. Currently, Pleasants has two other stores south of the James — one store off Jefferson Davis Highway and another at Chesterfield Meadows, off Centralia Road in Chesterfield. Pleasants Hardware opened in 1915, and its original location was at the corner of West Broad and Lombardy streets. Blue Bee Is Abuzz Imbibers have long awaited the opening of Courtney Mailey's urban cidery and orchard, Blue Bee Cider, which is in the heart of Old Manchester District at 212 W. Sixth St. The cidery celebrated its soft opening on April 20 but is planning for a grand opening celebration early this summer. The tasting room is open Friday through Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Its first run cider is called Aragon 1904, named after the building the business occupies — an old coffee warehouse on the James River. The cider is available in 750 milliliter bottles for $15.50 retail, and 500 milliliter bottles cost $10.25. "Right now we have one cider, but we will continue to roll others out through the year," Mailey says. Outside the tasting room is an orchard of 15 trees with different heirloom varieties of cider apples. For more information, visit bluebeecider.com .