Monday, April 6, 2020

[POPS] One of The "King's" Men Defects to Rival Pop Producer: Both Need Your Support

The COVID-19 pandemic has for us (like basically everyone else) meant that in addition to social distancing, our email box has filled hourly with basically every company, store, and restaurant with which we have ever done business updating us on their current offerings and status.  Mixed in with the many local and chain businesses we heard from was an email from Steel City Pops.  As many will recall, Steel City, named for its home city of Birmingham, Alabama, previously operated a pop shop in Atlanta, but closed it last year.

The interesting thing about this email was that it was signed not by company founder Jim Watkins, but by "CEO"  Pete Srodoski.  Who is Pete Srodoski, we wondered?  The answer was surprising.  Srodoski, you see, joined the Birmingham based business this past January, seemingly the same month that he left his job as Director of Sales for Atlanta's King of Pops!  

According to his LinkedIn profile, Srodoski spent three and a half years at King of Pops after an extensive career in retail, highlighted by nearly eight years in management with PetSmart.  [His LinkedIn page refers to him as "President" at Steel City Pops, while company collateral calls him "CEO."]  

Jim Watkins founded Steel City Pops and had led the business as "founder/owner" since its inception in 2012.  

This past August, Steel City placed its Decatur "kitchen", its lone Atlanta area outpost, on the market.  That move and simultaneous abandonment of a planned satellite shop in the new Madison Yards project signaled that the company was waving a virtual white flag in their war of sorts with King of Pops.

Pete Srodoski

In November, the Decatur location was sold [slated soon to reopen as Ponko Chicken], one of eleven units that the pop company closed as part of a voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.  The move, "intended to help SCP preserve value while the management team evaluates strategic options to improve the company’s financial position and strengthen the business," was reportedly due in part to rising rents across the company's brick & mortar portfolio.  The company trimmed under-performing locations and set its sights on an expansion into something it has previously resisted: wholesale.

Whereas Steel City Pops grew out an extensive company owned retail network, King of Pops developed dozens of wholesale/partnership accounts with the likes of Whole Foods Market, Willy's Mexicana Grill, Farm Burger and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, among others.  

Srodoski's years of retail experience teamed with his leadership and relationships with sports teams, businesses, restaurants and other "key accounts" likely made him the perfect candidate to help Steel City diversify its business and return to profitability.  

Interestingly, blog posts on the Steel City Pops website highlight both the chapter 11 reorganization filing as well as the COVID-19 response and offerings, but make no mention of Srodoski's addition to and role with the company.  [Srodoski was never the public face of King of Pops like Paul Marcarelli aka the "Can you hear me now" guy was for Verizon, but Marcarelli's "switch" to Sprint was definitely a big deal, much like the recent pop flip.] 

At ToNeTo Atlanta, we are fans of the pops of both businesses and are cheering for all businesses to regain their footing (and their traffic) and continue operating.  It will be interesting to see if, perhaps through wholesale accounts, Steel City returns to Atlanta.

Both businesses are currently running COVID-19 promotions, with King of Pops also offering free delivery in markets in which they operate.  For those wishing to support Steel City Pops, their offers require that you visit one of the company's twelve remaining pop shops in Alabama, Kentucky and Texas.  

For now, we urge everyone to buy some pops or some poke or some burgers or some sushi, really just about anything, from your local restaurants as they do what they can to continue operations.  

This coming Tuesday, April 7 is #TheGreatAmericanTakeout, an especially great time to order takeout or delivery from your favorite local restaurant. Please do! 


S. Gresham said...

Piccadilly Conyers permanently closed

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon RE: Piccadilly,

Yes, you are correct. It is due to be replaced by Chick-fil-A.

Thanks for your comments and readership!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...