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Popcorn Machines Make A Great Family Business

Updated on January 1, 2011

Everyone in American wants apart of that wonderful dream of being financially self sufficient and dependent from working for an employer. Millions of us in this country every year start new business’ to try to free ourselves from that monkey on our back called a boss and few of us ever make the transition much less become successful at being self-employed.

Popcorn has been a simple basic salty snack that Americans have loved for over a century and is quite the impulse item when sold in high traffic areas like shopping malls, sporting events, and basically any other outdoor activity. Movie theaters have a trapped audience that cannot help but buy this buttery and salty snack due to the close proximity, the aroma and the need to crunch something while watching Chuck Norris kick someone’s butt on the big screen simultaneously.

The great advantage to starting a small business like this is the low investment amount to buy a commercial popcorn machine and supplies. Adding additional machines to grow is also ecomical and doesn't pose a problem of getting financing like with some other start up business'.

Popcorn Machiens For Customers

Pop Corn Machines Make A Great Mom and Pop Business That is Profitable.
Pop Corn Machines Make A Great Mom and Pop Business That is Profitable.

Where can a Mom and Pop business start up a popcorn business today with little difficulty? Shopping Malls are one – the kiosk rental business in a mall lets small companies without a huge budget for lease space take advantage of the massive foot traffic without being trapped into a contract that they may not be able to fufill every month. These little wheeled kiosks let you set up just about anywhere since they are on wheels and allow for electrical access.

Another venue is themed shopping villages – We have one near Houston Texas called Old Town Spring that has a couple of hundred boutique type shops that from Friday to Sunday has thousands of people roaming the streets of this hundred year old township looking for the perfect handbag or quilt. One of the most successful vendors there is a kettle popcorn vendor who produces the sweetest and best tasting popcorn you have ever consumed.

The beauty behind popcorn machines and the kettle corn business is that the aroma sells the product for you. If someone is hungry or not they are going to take notice of the popcorn smell and come to you with money in hand to satisfy their cravings. The combination of the coconut oil, heat and salt with the proper kernels to pop make it a deadly combination that consumers have no defense against unless their olfactory senses are depleted.

How do I know this business is a big hit – back in 1970 I received a toy like popcorn popper as a Christmas gift that produced popcorn by using a 100 watt bulb as it’s heating element. Instead of setting up a lemonade stand at first my popcorn machine was my first entrepreneurial venture into the free enterprise market. My sister Wendy and I stationed her little play table and the popcorn popper outside the gate of the apartment complex swimming pool and started popping corn and giving out samples. We had acquired a large amount of small brown paper bags from local convenience stores that usually used them to encase a beer can.

The Popcorn Machine Attracts Customers

People went nuts and were lined up to buy our beer can bags of popcorn for the whole day. We sold the small bags of popcorn for only five cents and according to our math it only cost us about one cent per bag to complete the transaction. But to be fair we were using someone else’s electricity and had use of free bags. But the fact remains that the impulse to buy popcorn where ever it’s available was proven true with our crude concession stand that we set up and sold popcorn to you and old consumers alike all summer long.

I noticed the last time we went to the drag races on East Mount Houston Rd in Houston Texas that a man had set up an Electric Popcorn Machine much like you see in theaters and was doing a brisk business next to the beer concession. I did not get a chance to speak with him – but it looked like the demand was high enough to keep him busy and a smile on his face. Of course popcorn machines are a little pricey today – and you are probably looking at a minimum outlay of $500.00 - $1,000.00 dollars for a professional grade machine. Plus the rent you will have to pay where ever you set up which will be a varying amount – (before you talk to the land owner of your prospective rental location – talk to the other vendors and see if you can extract dollar amounts and how everything works).

The one great thing about running a business with a popcorn machine is that you are mobile and if one location doesn’t work out you can move on to greener pastures and try your business model in another location until you find a good fit.

Banks Use Popcorn Machines

Teller offers popcorn to a new client in their bank.
Teller offers popcorn to a new client in their bank. | Source

Banks Use Popcorn Machines To Attract New Accounts

You may have noticed in the last few years that banks that sublet space in major grocery store chains are enticing prospective clients with the smell of fresh popped popcorn at the entrance of their stores. This little trick plays on a persons need for salty and crunch snacks, and the use of coconut oil, and fresh butter hook and real them into the area, where a representative tries to entice them into opening an account. This is not a new practice, as several businesses use the smell of freshly made food to attract new clients.

Take for example real estate agents, as they know if they are constantly cooking two or three chocolate chip cookies in the oven during an open house it will make potential home buyers more at ease and hungry for one of those cookies about t come out of the oven. This gives the agent time to get to know a prospect with their goodwill of freshly baked cookies. The banks just use popcorn instead.

Paramount Entertainment Popcorn Machines Video

Paramount Entertainment Popcorn Machines - Popcorn Kiosk Business

Apparently this hub has become very popular for people wanting to start their own popcorn kiosk business in their spare time, and many have been inquiring about the line of Paramount Entertainment Popcorn Machines , as the basis of their venture. This is an excellent product series as they are high output models with low maintenance, and due to their superior construction, last quite a long time. The Paramount models come with a five year warranty when purchased new, and run between two hundred and thirty dollar up to about three hundred and seventy dollar depending on if you want the matching cart.

Those prices are for six to eight ounce poppers, and you will have your choices in color of red, black, or blue. The red would be preferable, as most people are used to seeing this color commercial popcorn popper in theaters, fairs, and at ball games.

Popcorn Machines Make A Great Income

Sell Gourmet Popcorn Gift Baskets

You can have a year revenue stream also selling gourmet popcorn gift baskets that you make with your own equipment. This works well especially if you live in an area where there is heavy snow in the winter, and outdoor selling of your movie popcorn. Set up a production center at home, or at friends commercial kitchen to create several different gourmet popcorn recipes to sell in those decorative gift tins, or popcorn cones. You can pop, and package at night, and sell them at a kiosk in the local shopping mall during the day, and on weekend. The profits on these gift sets are unusually high, and will make up a large percent of your annual profits.

This gourmet popcorn also makes for perfect College gift baskets, that people can send their children, and loved ones as care package throughout the year. Setting up a website like the people at Popcornopolis have done, and built into a huge empire. So now you have a local small business for direct sales to the public, a gift basket side business, and a world wide gourmet popcorn gift basket sales system. When one part of your popcorn business slows down, then the other two will fill in the profit gap for you to keep pushing forward in direct or passive sales.

Popcorn Fundraiser Video

Popcorn Fundraisers Make Money And Increase Exposure

In the beginning, most people are become frustrated easily if there popcorn business does not take off like a rocket, and the lack of action will be the only problem in this situation. Exposure at a brick and mortar level is necessary to get the ball rolling. Popcorn fundraisers are the exact things you will need to let the local consumers get to know you, and how great your popcorn business is, and tastes. Yes, this is not profitable situation immediately, but will payoff in droves with the contact you will make. In addition, you can market your gourmet popcorn gifts with flyers while handing out free cones of your theater style treats.

You never know whom you will meet at these fundraisers, as this is where the most successful business owners go to network and support their community. You might get an invitation to sell popcorn at a special event, or company function. The popcorn business can fit into many situations that we might not realize that are available until the right person is met, and networked. You might here four hundred and sixty three possible situations, but one of them will be the big money maker.

If anything, you can look at your kiosk business as a catalyst for your popcorn gift business, and help increase the awareness of your online enterprise as well. This will let all your popcorn revenue streams feed off one another. At first do whatever it takes to get your name out there, and become a brand that especially kids love to see, and get their parents to buy from you. Offering to give out free popcorn on a Friday at the nearest elementary school will give loads of great business karma for the weekends.

Harley Davidson Popcorn Machine Gets Attention

Just about every guy in the world loves the icon great American motorcycle cruisers made up win Wisconsin, and any time they see the name or the logo it gets their attention. So when developing your business plan, consider including a Harley Davidson popcorn machine as part of your retail flavor. You will pay a little more for having their logo, and name on the commercial popcorn popper, but overall it will be a marketing improvement especially in the early days of selling your gourmet or movie style popcorn products.

By itself popcorn is not that appealing to consumes, and they buy microwave popcorn weekly at the supermarket for movie night when the new DVDs are released every Tuesday. It is all about how you create an illusion around your product, and the user experience. Creating a unique paper based contain to serve the popped corn in is just as important as how you deal with your customers. Flare, packaging, and flavorings will make or break your business. The aroma, and visual appeal gets their attention, then the rest is up to you.

Walt Disney created in house training centers at his theme parks to train, and educate his concession vendors in a way that would make the most money, and make customers happy that they were actually buying the products. He saw the benefit of taking a part-time laborer, and turning them into a dramatic marketing tool to maximize profits. You must do the same for yourself, and have a system in place that will be teachable, and easily replicated to new staff. This is also apart of your brand, and it will serve you well whether you have Harley Davidson, or Mom and Popcorn signage on your vendor cart or kiosk.

Video About Cretors Popcorn Concession

Selecting Your Popcorn Machine

There are dozens of commercial popcorn machine manufacturers but there are only handful that are tried and true. There several that are made in China, and other countries, and marketed by wholesalers around the world, that are not exactly up to the standards of the American made units. The problem is not the quality of product that these other brands produce, but in the issue when they breakdown, and need replacement parts. Asian manufactures tend not make enough replacement parts to even cover their warranties requests, and this will dictate the owner of the popcorn machine buy another one from an alternative manufacturer.

Granted, some of the "American Popcorn Machines" have parts made in China, Mexico, The Philippines, they are assembled, and managed in the U.S.A., and this means they are governed by the Federal Trade Commission, and they have keep inventory for replacement parts for about five to seven years. Any machine with moving parts will eventually need service, and parts due to the heat and friction they endure during constant operation during your business hours.

Here is a list of the manufactures that you would probably want to research and stick with when narrowing down your final selection.

  • Gold Medal

  • Nostalgia Electrics

  • Paragon

  • Waring

  • Cretors

Each company has several models that you can choose from, and this writer has personally seen the Cretors in operation at a Gourmet popcorn distributor here in the Bayou City. They make huge machines for very high volume, and even ancillary equipment, and tables to help facilitate the creation, caramelizing, and preparation of many unique popcorn recipes. Cretors has been in business over one hundred twenty years.

Their latest offering is the Mach5 popcorn machine that is the pinnacle of the concession popcorn business. The overall quality and low maintenance of this popper combined with an enclosed LED programable sign that faces clients as they walk up to your kiosk or stand. This is great for introducing new flavors, or other offerings to improve your concession business. In addition, the colorful led sign will grab the attention of the people walking by as everyone reads moving signage when it gets their attention.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is such an amazing blog post. I learned so many things on how can a family start a small business with popcorn food business. Well, it is nice to know that there are certain ways that people can relieve their insufficient funds in the family. Having a popcorn business will totally solve family's financial problems. Great post. Thanks again.

    • JonSterling profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Sterling 

      8 years ago from Houston Texas - United States

      Thanks star439 - I appreciate your comment.

    • stars439 profile image


      8 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Great Article, and God Bless


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