Gwen Rosenberg has grand plans for her little popcorn shop, Popped!, in downtown Kent's Acorn Alley.
For starters, it's not going to be so little anymore.
Rosenberg is planning to expand into space on the third floor of Acorn Alley II, directly above her existing shop, to handle the abundance of internet and corporate orders that have come through both her physical and digital doorways.
"Downstairs, the space is limited," Rosenberg said. "I didn't think it was limited when I opened it."
The specialty popcorn store opened in the summer of 2011, and since then the Kent mom has enjoyed a brisk business for her offerings of kettle, caramel and more creative varieties of popcorn. The store marked its grand opening earlier this year.
As a business owner, she's had to endure construction that closed Erie Street for much of this summer. As a result, she held off on hiring employees until after the street reopened. Now she has two part-time employees that she plans to keep on after the holidays.
"We’re getting lots of orders on the website, and the walk-up traffic has been great," Rosenberg said. "It’s actually been tremendous. It exceeded my wildest expectations."
The website for Popped! launched about a month ago and is already providing a steady stream of orders. The online orders were stoked largely by local corporations that paid Rosenberg to ship her popcorn across the country as thank-you and holiday gifts.
"What’s happening is there are people who got these corporate gifts and then went online and ordered," she said.
The steady stream of new online orders, combined with an already strong showing of walk-in sales, meant the two worlds were colliding in the small shop. Empty popcorn tins awaiting orders are stacked about the retail space along with folded shipping boxes waiting for their marching orders.
So aside from providing office and storage space the new upstairs expansion, which is accessible via the elevator right next to the shop, will provide a place for packaging walk-in sale bags, storing excess inventory, handling bulk orders and prepping popcorn for both aspects of the store.
Rosenberg said she's hopeful to have the new space up and running by the end of January, as she already owns the freezer, popcorn machine and other equipment that will occupy the space.
"I’ll be able to offer more of the products that people like that tend to sell out a lot," Rosenberg said. "I make them as frequently as I can and then they sell out, so it will be cool to have a constant supply because it takes space for it.
"It will almost mirror what I have downstairs, but it won’t have the constant retail traffic," she said. "I expect to outgrow this space too. There are more products that I want to explore but that I haven’t even had a chance to."
Editor's note: Rosenberg also blogs about her endeavors as a small business owner here on Kent Patch. .