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Esther Ciammachilli / WAMU

This year’s economic downturn devastated many small businesses around the region. Survival often required their owners to quickly adapt to dramatic changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

That was the case at the Number 1 Sons pickle factory in D.C. It’s been anything but business as usual there since the pandemic hit in early March.

However, everything seemed orderly during a recent visit to its factory in the Ivy City neighborhood. A crew chopped habanero peppers against the relentless backdrop of an industrial cucumber slicer. The smell of fermented vegetables wasn’t too overwhelming until I peeked inside one of the giant blue fermentation barrels. That’s when the pungent smell of vinegar and spices hit me right in the face.

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