Rose and Bob Augustyn had always wanted to live in the South, but weren’t sure how to make the transition from their small Illinois town to a place they’d never lived. Walking the streets of Greenville, S.C., during a 2008 visit, the couple had a hankering for a snack – and that craving led to both their business and their 750-mile move. The two opened Poppington’s, a gourmet popcorn shop, in 2012 after four years of market research and product development.
During those years, the couple studied various locations for feasibility, drafted multiple exit plans (which they still follow), and turned their Illinois house into a commercial kitchen to develop their recipes and product line. Finally, they sold their possessions, secured a storefront and took the leap.
Six years later, Poppington’s is going strong, serving customers both savory and sweet non-GMO popcorn, and providing options for vegans, gluten-free folks, and people who are allergic to eggs, dyes, and peanuts.
The Augustyns sought out mentoring from SCORE for help with organizing daily operations and creating a production schedule. Rose says SCORE mentor Dave Esch has become “our go-to for advice on problems that come up unexpectedly.” Esch has helped the Augustyns with practical solutions, like mapping out their production schedule on a wall calendar using post-it notes so that all staff can easily keep track.
He’s also helped with more macro-level issues. Says Rose, “He has encouraged us to take a look at all avenues of opportunity and find the ones that work best for our goals … adjusting the business plan, and keeping focus on the future success we are looking for.”
The Augustyns successfully launched their business and have established themselves as a Greenville staple. They sell dozens of flavors at their brick-and-mortar location and online. They also offer wedding favors and corporate gifts. Customers can even order a “popcorn bar” for events.