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Pop City Popcorn brings snacks to downtown Kalamazoo

If a big box store comes in and buys the spot where you run your business what is an enterprising business owner to do?
 
If you are the former owners of Gull Lake Cinemas you pick up your theater popcorn maker and find a new home--to serve movie style popcorn and popcorn of many flavors.
 
Pop City Popcorn opened its doors March 1 at 346 N. Kalamazoo Mall across from the Epic Center and business has been brisk.
 
"No one was doing snack food downtown," says Teresa LaFountain, co-owner with her husband Steve of the new store. "At the restaurants you can buy cupcakes or a bag of chips, but not pop corn. I've never met anyone who didn't love popcorn."
 
The LaFountains are making it easy for downtown workers seeking a snack to get one with their large refillable buckets that can be purchased for $10 and refilled for $3. It even comes with a lid for safe transporting back to the office.
 
Popcorn is popped fresh daily using coconut oil, which LaFountain says is better for you than other kinds of oil. Their menu offers a mix of sweet and salty tastes such as butter rum or dill pickle. Cheddar cheese, chocolate peanut butter, parmesan garlic and more fill out the menu.
 
The store also has bottled sodas, including Coke and Pepsi and other beverages.
 
Gift baskets, popcorn tins with sections for three different flavors of pop corn, and meeting baskets available with multiple flavors when ordered ahead are all either in the works or now available.
 
The 1,200-square-foot store with 700 square feet devoted to retail and the rest for pop corn production employs four, including the LaFountains. "All our production is done on site," LaFountain says. 
 
The idea for the store grew out of their previous success. LaFountain says that during the eight years they operated the movie theater people often stopped in just to purchase popcorn. 
 
As the couple was looking for a new enterprise after they determined the theater would close the popularity of their popcorn encouraged them to research selling it and to develop recipes they could sell beyond the popular movie theater style that they were known for. As a result, each month will have its own special flavor. March will be the month for Irish Cream Caramel. 
 
Response has been very positive and the time and research they put into developing the different flavors is paying off for the couple who are in their third business together. ("We love being self employed, having our own business, and trying different things," LaFountain says.)
 
As they sought out a location they were happy to find one on the Kalamazoo Mall. "There are so many good things going on here that we wanted to be a part of," LaFountain says. "It's really taken off."
 
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Teresa LaFountain, Pop City Popcorn
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