Corning's Olive Pit
By Brandi Barnett
Pit StopJanuary 2007
By Gwen Tough
If you’ve seen the signs for the Olive Pit off I-5 in Corning, but kept on going, it turns out you
are the exception rather than the rule. It seems that every other person driving I-5 makes the “Pit” stop.
The day I visited, I was amazed to find so many people in the store at 11:30 on a Tuesday morning. Among the shoppers I talked with, there was a couple from Alaska on their way to Mexico and a couple from Vancouver, B.C. en route to Palm Springs. Their stories were remarkably similar: every year they stop in and stock up on all kinds of olives, olive oils, nuts and a great assortment of gourmet items irresistible to all “foodies.”
One shopper tells the classic Pit story. Kim first started visiting the Pit in 1968, when she was a child vacationing with her grandparents. They always stopped in at the Olive Pit, which back then was a burger stand with jars of Corning olives on the side. These days, Kim can’t go by without stocking up on olives, with memories on the side.
What all these travelers find, in addition to high quality products at reasonable prices, is something very rare these days: a business that treats its customers and staff like family. Ann Craig, who began the Pit with her late husband Peter back in 1967, at 83 years still stops in every day at to check in on things. Her children Ron and Bonnie and granddaughter Hannah Boeldt are also in the business, working hard to earn their customers’ enormous loyalty.
Store manager Renee Landingham is almost family, as are assistant manager Trina, and mail order supervisor Kalin, both with 15+ years at the Pit. Renee began working at the Pit during high school 30 years ago, and says with gratitude, “Ann made me who I am today.” Ann Craig was always there, like a mother hen, investing much time and energy teaching Renee and all her young employees about so much more than olives. Today the Pit continues to employ many high school students part time.
If you are tired of being treated like a number, try the Olive Pit. You too may become part of their family. �
Visit www.olivepit.com for mail-orders, store hours or directions.
They still offer burgers and shakes, as well as wi-fi internet.