From The Blog

Pop’s Popcorn: A Case Study

Most days when I’m out driving around town I travel down this somewhat well-traveled road that connects to a much heavier trafficked road. In other...

Most days when I’m out driving around town I travel down this somewhat well-traveled road that connects to a much heavier trafficked road. In other words, I live in the middle of nowhere, and in order to get to anywhere I would like to be, I use this road. On this road there are many things: mostly furry animals that jump out and almost get hit, but jump out of the road as soon as I swerve (it’s a massive game of chicken and all the critters are in on it, I just know it.) Anyway, also on this road is an old, slightly dilapidated stand with a large sign proclaiming that it is indeed, “POP’S POPCORN.”

 

Pop's Popcorn Stand Portrait

Pop's Popcorn Stand even had a painting! What is it hiding?

I have never once seen this place open, nor ever really intended to, but every time I passed it caught my eye. Eventually, after dozens of passes, my curiosity got the better of me.

 

What is this place? Why is it here? Is the popcorn THAT good? It must be if the place is never open and still stays in business.

 

Soon, this fascination turned into a desire. Subconsciously, without even realizing I had begun, I embarked on a quest to obtain the popcorn of Pop. With no hours posted (that I could see), I began to ask other locals. All of them knew what I was talking about but were as mystified as me. No one had ever had Pop’s Popcorn and no one had ever seen it open. Was this place closed for good? Why had Pop closed his stand?

 

I was onto Pop.

 

Last Friday I was coming home from the zoo and was heading back home from that road, and by chance, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. On Pop’s infamous sign was an “OPEN” flag and the cars were lined up. I’m sure they were just as curious as I was. I immediately turned around and headed to the stand.  I managed to find a parking spot and literally ran to a small window where I only guessed Pop would be greeting me with a half enthusiastic, half sarcastic tone that oozed with the attitude of “I’m over 60 so I don’t care.” Instead, I was welcomed by a middle-aged man who recommended I try the sausage.

 

It turned out (or so I believe) that it was Pop’s son. And, it also turned out, that Pop had expanded his line to include sausage, hot dogs, burgers, and other summer staples. I didn’t want that. I wanted the popcorn. Unfortunately for me, it seemed that Pop was whipsawed – his efforts were so much into selling package deals (sausage, chips, drink, etc), that he let his flagship popcorn suffer. READ: It wasn’t that good.

 

Regardless, I went, and so did countless others. The parking lot was never empty, the picnic tables were never vacant, and the amount of U-turns I saw while eating my popcorn were almost laughable. So, what can we glean from Good Ol’ Pop?

 

  1. Scarcity Is a Powerful Psychological Tool – When people don’t have it, they want it, and when they finally get it, they’re proud to have something others don’t. Pop, whether he intended to or not, created a mystique about his little stand. Sitting in defiance to all who drive by, Pop’s somewhat random hours (Fridays and Saturdays during the Summer/when he feels like it) makes it a privilege and a must-stop when the place is actually OPEN. Those who stopped all seemed amazed that the place was actually in business.
  2. Word of Mouth “Buzz” is Powerful, Especially with Scarcity – I told everyone I could about Pop’s, looking to glean more information, and when I finally found the place, you better believe I told everyone I knew that I had been there. Now, whenever I pass the place, whomever I’m with, regardless of whether I told them already or not, I will inform them that I’ve been there.
  3. The Power of the Whipsaw – Yea, I’m going to tell everyone I’ve been there. But then goes the guaranteed response, “well, was it good?” To which I’m going to have to answer, “well, not really.” So long Pop. Any interest you may have generated from my remarks is lost. I expected gourmet level popcorn locally made and flavored, but instead I found your stereotypical summer snack shop. Stick to what you (claim) to do well Pop.

 

 

Me at Pop's -- Don't Mind the Awkward

If you can excuse the awkward, this is documentation of Pop's popcorn of legend.

 

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  1. Carole McMorrow July 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    The artical was very interesting and you did a wonderful job of allowing me to feel like I was there with you on your journey. Now I know that if I wonder by there and they are open I won’t need to stop to get the “great popcorn” venture. I also love popcorn and don’t need to go out of my way to just get “regular popcorn”. I guess they are not really in business to make money or find new patrons.

  2. Debbie Thomas July 26, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Ryan, here’s a little more for the mystery….Just across Rt. 16 on Mendon Road going toward Bellingham, there is a lovely country home with beautiful landscaping on the right hand side of the road. On Sunday, I noticed a sign propped up at the end of the driveway that read something like “Pop’s popcorn here.” I was thinking, “What?!? Pop’s has moved??” Worth checking out?

    • rymmc July 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      Mrs. Thomas — VERY INTERESTING! The legend of Pop’s Popcorn lives on…I REFUSE to believe I tasted the truly infamous Pop’s Popcorn.

  3. Jordan Koschei April 3, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    Lose your focus, lose your shirt.

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