When it comes to pickles, people have opinions. Some people love them, and others don’t. But according to Lisa Obriotti, owner of Fickle Pickles “Even people who don’t like pickles love our pickles!” That must be true, because for almost 44 years now Fickle Pickles’ perfect combination of sweet, salt, crunch and spice has kept customers coming back for more!
The company was started in 1981 by Lisa’s mother, Billie A. Shaw and has now grown to five locations in Boerne, Bandera, New Braunfels, Gruene and Austin, along with a bustling online business. “We ship Fickle Pickles all over the country. We have shipped to every state in the United States and even around the world. When I think of how the business has grown over the years, I know my mother would be so pleased,” said Lisa.
Lisa’s mother, aka The Pickle Lady, had an antique store in San Antonio for about 15 years and eventually moved the business to Boerne. “The business was initially on the north side of town where there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic and the business was a bit slow. My mother was also a very good cook. She was self-taught and her trick was that she learned to season things well. For years she had made these pickles for just our family before she ever sold one jar. She decided to put her pickles out at the store to see if it would bring in more business. Eventually customers began asking to buy them. She literally built this business one jar at a time,” recalled Obriotti.
Shaw eventually moved her business to Main Street, Boerne and settled in their current location where Carousel Antiques and Pickles has been for almost 37 years. According to Lisa, “We very well may be the oldest businesses on Main Street in Boerne.”
Obriotti, along with her husband Jake, took over Fickle Pickles in 2000 when Mrs. Shaw retired. It was then that Lisa became known as “The Pickle Lady’s Daughter” and the Obriottis quickly began making and shipping Fickle Pickles all over the world and expanding the presence of Fickle Pickles throughout the hill country.
The original, Boerne location takes full advantage of the abundant foot traffic offered by being on the Hill Country Mile. According to Lisa, “We have all kinds of people who come into our stores. There are the kids who stop in for a sample on their way home from school, locals, day-trippers, and even a few famous faces.”
Yes, that’s right, Fickle Pickles have quite the following. “George W. Bush stopped in when he was running for Governor and bought some pickles for himself, as well as his parents. Other notable customers have included Pierce Brosnan and Cheryl Tiegs,” said Lisa. “We have been written up in Southern Living, Texas Highways, Texas Monthly and various newspapers. In 2007, we were even on the Martha Stuart show in New York!”
While their flagship store is in Boerne, the four other locations of Fickle Pickle stores offer even more opportunity for customers and future customers to get their hands on a few jars of these addictive pickles. The New Braunfels store is located next to the oldest bakery in Texas and inside of the second oldest building in New Braunfels. The Austin store is an entirely different concept altogether. In May of 2021, Lisa and Jake turned a 1966 Airstream trailer into their storefront and parked it in the South First Food Court. “It is definitely not your typical retail store, but for Austin it works,” laughed Lisa.
Fickle Pickles are still made, canned and shipped from their factory in Boerne. To this day they have never changed the original process or recipe and continue to make and can every jar by hand. “I believe we are one of the only mid-sized pickle companies that still does everything by hand,” added Lisa. “Good management and an excellent team of people help us to ensure that we are continuously producing a product that my mother would be proud of.”
The product selection is pretty straight forward. Fickle Pickles come in Original and Extra Spicy and the jars are available in four sizes – 8 ounce, 16 ounce, 26 ounce and 32 ounce. You can also buy just a bottle of their Marinade, which is a 16 ounce bottle of Fickle Pickle Juice that is delicious to use on all types of meat. “Our Extra Spicy pickles are marked with a simple red “X” on top of the jar, there is no difference in the labels. We like to do it this way because it shows that they are truly handmade,” said Obriotti. “The date on the label is the born date, or the date they were made, not the expiration date. The pickles are good for 18 to 24 months from that date.”
“Customer service is always our main focus. We have made so many friends and connections over all of these years. It is important to us to be engaged in the community, so we do our best to support the local schools and nonprofits in the communities we are involved in,” added Lisa.
Lisa also says that customer often ask why they have not expanded their product line to include other things. “We just focus on what we know and do best,” she said. While Fickle Pickles chooses to stay true to their roots, they do a lot of promotion through social media and weekly e-mail newsletters where they offer their customers recipes and information on how to use their products.
Lauren Forbes, Fickle Pickles employee, at the Boerne Store