A Business that Popped Up
What challenge did you have?
Neal Crosier, COO/Owner of Popcorn Junkie LLC, started the business in 2016 along with his wife, Minetta. The couple wanted to bring a wide array of gourmet popcorn flavors to the Central Florida market and started selling their popcorn in a retail location outside of the sports complex in Orlando, Florida. Crosier and his wife had ideas about the types of popcorn and flavors they wanted to sell, but they did not know how to take their passion for popcorn and turn it into a profitable business.
Crosier is an industrial engineer by trade, and previously worked for one of the largest food manufacturers in the United States. Even while employed, Crosier felt a strong connection to being an entrepreneur. While the business was initially a successful small retail operation, Crosier and his wife were often working to fill orders. The young company lacked organization, marketing, staffing capacity, and other foundational elements of running a successful business. The company at times missed fulfillment opportunities and the owners were struggling with time and resource management.
What was the SBA solution?
Crosier started working with U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) resource partner, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of Central Florida. He worked with the SBDC to research opportunities, strategic goals, and improve overall marketing strategies. Eventually Popcorn Junkie LLC was able to market its gourmet popcorn to local sports venues and Orlando area theme parks. The company does not depend on the retail location to sell its gourmet popcorn and has increased its capacity.
The business was doing well, but the pandemic closed retail operations for a few months. The company quickly pivoted to an online model and by using creative solutions to keep in business. Crosier worked on establishing relationships with the City and local area hospitals. He worked with a local hospital chain to provide first responders and hospital staff with popcorn, which kept the business operational.
Popcorn Junkie LLC was able to utilize the Paycheck Protection Program and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) during the pandemic to stay in business. Crosier has recently participated in SBA’s T.H.R.I.V.E. program, designed to help successful small businesses scale to the next level.
What benefit did this have for you?
Popcorn Junkie LLC has grown as a company in many ways. The company now employs 8 people and has added extra shifts to meet demand. The company has also experienced exponential growth in terms of revenue and has increased sales by 110% from the time it started. The company is also planning on growing in terms of square footage and retail space in the near future.
Crosier and his wife have partnered to build a small popcorn stand into a highly profitable small business by building relationships within the community. He was able to utilize the resources SBA offers to grow and scale the business. Today, the business can offer over 30+ specialized flavors of popcorn across several industries. The company also has systems in place for accurate inventory control and order fulfillment.