Aliska Walker knows a thing or two about pickles. In fact, what began as an icebreaker activity to alleviate first-day-of-school jitters for her first grade students transitioned into a business like no other.
“At that time, we were just making Kool-Aid pickles, it was an experiment. I bought the kids their own mason jars, pickles, and different Kool-Aid flavors, and they had to choose the flavor that they wanted to create, as well as create a marketing plan,” Walker recalled. “They had to come up with their own ingredients, how they wanted to mix it, they had to cut their own pickles. They had to design a logo as well as do a little slogan for their pickles. From there, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I love pickles,’ and I started writing all these [pickle] recipes.”
Walker’s passion for pickles quickly grew as she sought out a way to get her creations into the hands–and mouths–of pickle lovers of all ages in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.
“I started reaching out to different gas stations and asking them to sell my pickles. I found out that I had to get certified [from] Certified Foods. I got certified and registered with the FDA. I started making my own pickles in a commercial kitchen, which was at a church. After that, I started selling them at the Soulard Farmers Market. I left the kitchen, found another building, and I opened up Aliska’s Amazing Pickles Cafe,” Walker says.
Since 2018, Walker has operated Aliska’s Amazing Pickles, which she describes as “tasty pickles with an attitude.” Her business’ first physical location was only meant to be a place to produce her pickles, but after undergoing the construction and renovation process, she opened a cafe for pickle enthusiasts.
“That’s when I decided I could make this a cafe in which I could start taking the food and merging it with my pickles,” says Walker. “I started to infuse soul food with different flavors of pickles.”
In February 2022, Walker left her teaching job to pursue her pickle passion full time. She established pop-up pickle workshops at schools and various companies, using her pickles as a team-building workshop. Recently, Walker moved to a new location selling pickle confections in the South County Mall food court in St. Louis. Customers can stop by Aliska’s Amazing Pickles and build their own “personality pickles.”
“It’s a hot commodity because everybody loves pickles and there is no one market,” Walker beamed. “Customers get a thirty-two ounce mason jar, pay twenty five dollars, and I put out a buffet of spices. You get to choose from different spices and you create your own pickles. You leave with the pamphlet that tells you what you have to do after you walk away with the pickles.”
Aliska’s Amazing Pickles fanatics can save time when placing a pickle order, thanks to Clover’s Smart Online Order app. One jar of Walker’s pickles may not be enough, so customers can take advantage of Aliska’s Amazing Pickles rewards program to load up on the salty sensations. By utilizing Clover’s loyalty rewards program, Walker is able to bring in repeat customers who enjoy her pickle creations.
“A majority of people come back in—90 percent of them come back to purchase pickles. After they purchase 10 jars of pickles, they get a free jar,” Walker shared. “I like the fact that [Clover] gives them the option to choose as they’re checking out [and] it gives them the opportunity to give me a tip as well.”
Pickles isn’t the only thing that Walker is passionate about. While in the midst of growing her own business, Walker is planning on how she’ll help the next generation of business owners.
“My next goal is to create a camp for young entrepreneurs to come spend some time with me, be able to map out their goals and their business ideas, and have a lot of hands-on experiences.”
Read more stories about how Clover is helping merchants build thriving businesses and nurture their customers.