Local Wichita Business Spotlight: The Popcorner
The Popcorner is a family owned business with two Wichita locations. They have a passion for creating old fashioned style gourmet popcorn and other gourmet treats. The Popcorner specializes in coming up with new and unique popcorn flavors. Frutti Fresh, Birthday Cake, and Jalapeño Cheddar are just a few examples. It is always exciting to see what their Flavor of the Week will be! The old fashioned delights that the Popcorner prepares, include sugared nuts and pretzels in different flavors, as well as a variety of crispy treats. You will not be able to resist the plethora of fudge flavors the Popcorner creates. Some of their seasonal fudge flavors include Carmel Apple Fudge and Pumpkin Spice fudge. Yum! They offer a variety of popcorn bag sizes from a small bag (three cups), to a bushel size bag (approx.100 cups). The Popcorner also has a wide range of beautifully designed popcorn tins to choose from. The Wichita Gift Tin is especially charming. Any of these amazing treats would make the perfect gift. We recently had the pleasure of visiting with Kirsten Bender, owner and president of The Popcorner, to learn more about this delightful Wichita business...
1. Business Name? The Popcorner
2. How many years have you been in business? Six years this October.
3. What is your business’s mission statement? Our mission is to make old fashioned treats in a friendly and customer centric environment. We want every customer to leave with a smile!
4. What inspired you to start this business? My first job in high school was at a popcorn store in Andover, KS. I was enamored with the business and this industry and knew that someday I would want to open a store of my own. About ten years later, I was presented with the opportunity to purchase that company's assets and re-brand it as The Popcorner.
5. What kind of education or training prepared you to operate your business?
I earned my bachelor's degree in business management and marketing.
6. How did you know that Wichita was the perfect city to open your business in? After working for the popcorn store in Andover, I knew that there was definitely a market for it in this area. We had many customers coming from the West side to Andover just to get gourmet popcorn. We knew at that point there would be a market in the Wichita area for our products as well.
7. What is your favorite thing about owning and running a business in Wichita? I appreciate and love how the culture of Wichita supports local businesses. It is such a welcoming city to own a business in and everyone truly likes to support each other any way possible.
8. How do you feel your business has impacted our community? The Popcorner has supplied Wichita with freshly made and unique Old Fashioned treats. We are also a fun and unique place to visit with kids and families. Since we have sweets, salty treats, and treats that are both sweet & salty, there is always something for everyone in the family to enjoy! A big part of our branding is to make our products in the front of our stores as much as possible, that way our customers can see and smell the freshness.
9. What is the most heartfelt compliment a customer has given you or your business? When customers take the time to do a positive google review or a nice review on social media, it really means a lot to us. As a business owner, you sometimes feel like since you don't answer to a boss- at times your hard work can go unrecognized. When customers compliment us or do reviews, it makes us feel that recognition. At the end of the day, we work so hard to make our customers happy, not necessarily for a paycheck, but for that validation that they enjoy what we do. That is more satisfying than a year end profit to me.
10. What is the most amusing or funny experience you have had happen at your business or while you were operating your business? Every day presents a fun and unique challenge to us. At times, I joke that we need a reality show and we could really keep people entertained if they were to see behind the scenes of our day-to-day operations. We have many funny moments now that I bring my 2 year old to work with us most days. One recent time, we were looking around our back room for my toddler and we couldn't find him to save our lives. Mom instincts kicked in, I was yelling his name and panicking, he is so adventurous, did he sneak out the front door while we weren't watching for a quick second? Upon seeing one of our supply cabinet doors open in our chocolate coating room, I looked behind the cabinet and no joke, he had his head in the bulk chocolate barrel just shoving unmelted chocolate pieces into his mouth as quickly as possible. What a resourceful kid (with a sweet tooth I might add) :)
11. How much do you treasure your employees and the people you work with? Our employees truly are the best and they make work so entertaining for us. For a lot of the part timers, this is their first job so it is fun to be a part of molding them into an adult and helping to teach them responsibility and good work habits. We have many staff that will come back and help us for Christmas time year after year and it is like a big reunion each busy season for us. Working with my family and my parents especially day after day has got to be the best part for me. We get along great and bounce ideas off of each other. For some families, this wouldn't work out, but for ours it is perfect!
12. What is the most satisfying aspect of being a business owner?
I would have to say, in the beginning when we first started out, people would ask me what I did for a living and I would have to explain what The Popcorner was and where we were located. Many people didn't know about us so I was doing a lot of educating in the beginning. Nowadays, when people ask what I do, 9 times out of 10 when they find out it is The Popcorner, not only are they familiar with our brand and stores, but they even tell me what their favorite products are that we make. It is so fun to see the growth of our family's idea and as we continue to grow, just knowing that people are familiar with a brand that we created by drawing up a logo design on a napkin at my kitchen table in 2014. Not only are they familiar but they love and cherish our products. This is what really keeps me going when the times get a little challenging. We definitely see growth as our future and hope to continue to spread the love of our products across the US.
11330 E Central Ave Suite 800 Wichita, KS 67206 Phone: (316) 733-0099
2121 N Tyler Rd
Wichita, KS 67212
Phone: (316) 613-8828
Hours of operation at both locations:
Monday - Saturday: 10:00am - 7:00pm
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