A genuine Lower East Side institution,
Guss' Pickles has been providing area residents, epicures and intrepid
travelers with delicious pickled products for almost a century.
It's fitting that one of the Lower East Side's landmarks was founded
by a Russian immigrant. Russian native Izzy Guss arrived in New York at
the dawn of the 20th Century with thousands of other European
newcomers. Like many of his fellow immigrants, Izzy rented a pushcart
and sold produce-including his now famous pickles--on the Lower East
Peddling pickles was a ready, if hardly ideal, first business for
immigrants: it was a low-skilled job that required relatively little
overhead. Indeed, cheap rental fees for pushcarts and the large market
for pickles meant that anyone willing to work long hours could not only
earn a profit, but eventually buy their own cart or even open a shop.
Izzy Guss took the latter route, opening his own pickle shop on
Hester Street in 1920. At the time, the neighborhood was teeming with
80 other pickle shops. However, immigration restrictions, a ban on
pushcarts and the steady economic decline of the Lower East Side felled
almost all of these shops.
However, Guss' Pickles managed to survive these fallow times and now
stands as the last of the area's old pickle shops. Pat Fairhurst, the
current owner of Guss' Pickles, still mixes the stores' signature blend
of flavors: corriander, mustard seed, bay leaves, peppercorns, red
peppers and garlic. Though the neighborhood may have changed, Guss'
pickles, peppers and other famous goods remain as tasty as ever.