Friday, November 9, 2012

Is Popcorn the New FroYo? / New Stores Popping Up Everywhere


A mall-based doc popcorn
Frozen yogurt or FroYo, as so many now call it, has become nearly as ubiquitous as coffee shops.With low barriers to entry and and few ways to differentiate such a commoditized product, popcorn is seemingly fast becoming the next popular business model. 

I first noticed gourmet poporn being sold in malls such Grapevine Mills near Dallas, NorthPark Center in Dallas, and Mall of America near Minneapolis on trips this past summer.  Grapevine and Mall of America featured locations of Boulder, Colorado-based Doc Popcorn, one of the nation's largest franchise operations with nearly 80 PopShops across the country.  Doc Popcorn stores come  in a variety of formats: kiosk locations, in-line mall spaces, and mobile units and catering. Doc Popcorn is found in a number of malls and shopping centers, most notably for me, King of Prussia Mall, outside Philadelphia.   

Doc popcorn was started in 2003 in New York by husband and wife Rob and Renée Israel. The couple soon moved to Boulder, Colorado where Doc Popcorn grew to the mini empire that it is today.

Calhoun-based Popcorn Haven is a popcorn franchise with nine locations in its home state of Georgia  in addition to four licensed locations under alternate branding in Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.

Atlanta-based LockHeart has two locations that I'm aware of and have visited.  The company has a kiosk location on the first floor of Cumberland Mall and a storefront location in a former Pretzel Time space on the lower level of Northlake Mall in Tucker.  This local shop offers a few different rotating flavors of "Chicago Style Popcorn."  

Doc Popcorn offers just 9 flavors, while Popcorn Haven claims to have 250 flavors.  It's akin to the comparison of Pinkberry to Yogli Mogli, where Pinkberry has but four or six options and Yogli Moigli usually has sixteen.

Chicago, Illinois based Garrett Popcorn, one of the oldest and most well known popcorn shops, has about a dozen domestic locations and a handful of international stores.  "A Chicago tradition since 1949," ten of the company's twelve domestic locations are in the Windy City with one each in New York and Las Vegas.

What do you think of this current popcorn craze?  Is this bubble about to pop or is popcorn here to stay?  What national chain would you like to see come to Atlanta? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

13 comments:

Chris Callaway said...

I believe it was George Harrison who said "All fads must pass".

Anonymous said...

Most of these are just attempted copies at what Garrett's is. Some are closer than others in their attempt. The best stores make their popcorn daily or several times a day versus having it shipped in from somewhere else. There's nothing like a bag of Chicago mix from Garrett's right after they made it. Price is also a factor. The new Caja popcorn @ Ptree Battle is pretty expensive compared to the per bag prices at other stores. The popcorn was also a lower quality with lots of hulls and their flavor choices are limited to 5 or combinations thereof. I wish them all the best but time will tell who will make it.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have been noticing this trend as well. To me it seems like a revamp of a trend when I was a kid in the 80's. Every mall in Atlanta had a flavored popcorn place. Never a big fan, prefer my popcorn warm with real butter!

Anonymous said...

Grapevine Mills is near Dallas, not Houston.

Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com said...

Wow, was my hometown of Alpharetta an early adopter of this fad? That almost never happens. We've had a popcorn shop (outside of a mall I might add) for about two nears now. It's called Heavenly Gourmet Popcorn. I don't see them doing a ton of business, but perhaps they do mail orders. It's also quite expensive.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon RE: Grapevine Mills,

You are right! I have made the correct, my apologies.

Thanks for the eagle eye!

Glen said...

Lee,
They really must not want walk in business. You have to search their web site just to find out where the store is located. Same thing with the phone #. Both should be on the home page, or at least a link that says location.

Anonymous said...

Doc Popcorn is a fresh-popped all-natural concept and
is coming to Atlanta soon.
The company just entered an agreement with a local
franchise owner, or as they call them "POPrietors" to
open three locations in the area. What makes it so
unique is that it's all-natural infused flavors actually
still tastes like popcorn, not candy. It's infinitely edible
and delicious!

Anonymous said...

Popcorn Haven isn't a franchise.
They have licensees and operate under
different names.
They have 5 locations not nine.

Anonymous said...

You missed mentioning Popcornmania on Shallowford Road in the Publix shopping center, near the intersection with I-85. I've been expecting it to close since it opened in the summer. I went in once. There is very little foot traffic. They have about 100 flavors of popcorn stored in big Cambro containers. The popcorn is expensive and very ordinary. It's not a thing like Garrett's in Chicago where there is always a line for their fresh, delicious product. Now, they're on Scoutmob...

Anonymous said...

I like CaJa. At least their product is fresh. I think the pimento cheese flavor is really good! Heavenly Popcorn did my sister's wedding and was really tasty also.

But you are right, Garretts is the king of the popcorn business. It is horrible for you, but oh so delicious!

Anonymous said...

I like CaJa as well. Fresh, not coated in preservatives and great flavors. It has been a hit every where I've brought it.

Anonymous said...

Lee - Heavenly Popcorn is a licensed franchise of Popcorn Haven but it was definitely the first one around here.