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Thursday, February 11,2010

Popcorn and soda

by Gretchen Cochran

While most of the vendors who were at the old downtown market will be doing business this week at the new Lansing City Market, Chad Jordan will not. He’ll be pushing a paint brush and hauling boxes into his new digs in Old Town.


He’s on course to open Cravings Gourmet Popcorn and Soda Pop Market on Turner Street on Feb. 22, wedged between Mama Bear’s and Studio 1210.


His space will have grown more than seven times, from 128 square feet at the City Market, to 900 square feet and an entire wall of windows looking out onto the street. Three small tables will accommodate snackers.


Yes, there’s the $5,000 bank note, and payments to friends and family who are helping with the finances. But he’s joined what he calls a group of business owners who are working hard to cultivate a culture.


“Old Town is hip. It’s trendy,” Jordan, 37, said.


He looks forward to taking part in the regularly scheduled festivals, gallery walks and other events.


Just as before, he’ll be selling various kinds of popcorn, including the microwavable varieties and the kind that has no hull, appealing to people who don’t want popcorn hulls crammed between their teeth, or who find them difficult to digest.


New products will include Jones Soda and Cherry Republic Soda from Traverse City and Faygo Soda in glass bottles.


Ever the social networker, Jordan will use Twitter and Facebook to market his expanded company. He’ll also use tools like Yelp.com, a site on which people write reviews about places they love, and foursquare, a smart phone application allowing people to announce where they are and get information about cool places nearby.


He calls himself a business nerd, remembering watching Michigan State University marketing classes on television when he was 6 years old. But instead of marketing, his degrees are in interdisciplinary studies and geography.


“It’s not what you learn but how you apply it,” the eastside Lansing resident says. His “day job” is in union representation for the Michigan Corrections Organization, giving him “excellent” health insurance and the security to take a business risk.


He’s heard of Garrett Popcorn’s shop in downtown Chicago where people form block-long-lines to buy the fresh snack.


“So, now you don’t have to go to Chicago. We’ll have it right here in Lansing,” he said with a grin.



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