Miss Jenny Comes to Washington

March 1, 2013 By Jonathan Ewing

Miss Jenny's Pickles testimony

Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The House Small Business Committee isn’t well known on Capitol Hill for its exciting hearings, but that might be about to change. Yesterday, pickle ladies Jenny and Ashlee drove up from North Carolina with three kids and a case of pickles in tow to share the story of building a small business one jar at a time.

Now in more than 800 stores across the U.S., Miss Jenny’s Pickles is also among the one percent of small businesses that exports internationally. In 2011, the pickle ladies began the hard work of navigating export regulations and shipped their first case of pickles to China. China accounts for five percent of their sales, and they’re looking to grow their international numbers to 25 percent.

So why the House Small Business Committee? The Committee wants to know how to help small businesses increase their exports. As Miss Jenny put it, “I’m getting ready to export to Canada. That means a bilingual label has to go on it. I’ve had to contact five different people to figure out how to get that done… If I want to export to Germany, because going to Germany is one of my goals for 2013, I’d like to know the steps in advance, of what I’ve got to do to get my product over there without having to contact 20 different places.”

International trade is crucial for the economy. In North Carolina alone, home to Pickle Headquarters, international exports supports about 1,100,000 jobs, a whopping 21% of total employment in the state. Export promotion and assistance agencies, like the Export-Import Bank, help businesses like Miss Jenny’s Pickles take the leap and find new markets for their goods. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. We should go sell them something.