Still Poppin’ Gourmet Popcorn has built its community reach and aims to further it beyond Nebraska.
Orlanda Whitfield, owner of Still Poppin’ Gourmet Popcorn, fondly remembers making popcorn as a young girl with her grandmother. Her mother and grandmother taught her everything she knows about cooking, and she knew that someday, she was going to use her creativity and passion for food to do something big.
In December 2016, Whitfield set out to start her own popcorn business.
“There wasn’t a popcorn shop in North Omaha, so I thought it would be the perfect spot,” she explained.
And she was right. Today she runs the shop with her sister Dionne and son Fonta Jones, Jr., along with a small staff. Customers can’t get enough — and they keep coming back for more.
Her vision is for Still Poppin’ to become a nationally self-funded, Black, woman-owned gourmet popcorn business. Locally, she aims to continue to bring jobs and economic empowerment into the community.
Bringing the Flavor
Housed in a refurbished shipping container, Still Poppin’ is located on North 24th Street in the Fair Deal Village MarketPlace. Because the space doesn’t have a kitchen, popcorn is made at No More Empty Pots, a nonprofit that offers commercial kitchens for rental for food entrepreneurs.
The company creates a variety of popcorn flavors, and the base for its caramel popcorn comes from Whitfield’s grandmother’s recipe that she learned when she was only 11 years old.
Popcorn kernels come from local farms, and the aim is to use the highest quality ingredients possible to create each batch. Some of the most popular products include Cookie’s N Cream, White Cheddar Caramel, Cheesy Cajun, Strawberry Banana, Honey Butter Kettle, and Candy Cane Lane. There is also a caramel popcorn infused with Hennessy cognac. The Omaha Mix is one of the company’s most well-loved items, which is hand-crafted caramel smothered in cheddar cheese.
Since day one, Whitfield has been committed to being involved in the community.
“We are successful because of our community support,” she shared.
“Sports teams and dance teams love our fundraising program. They sell our popcorn and 50% goes to their organization. We have helped teams travel to national competitions and get new uniforms.”
The fundraising program allows teams to raise money with no minimum orders and no upfront costs.
When pandemic restrictions forced them to think outside the box, the team at Still Poppin’ Gourmet Popcorn decided to pivot their business model. Thankfully, they saw success with more online sales, and have even shipped to customers outside of the state. Whitfield said that so far they have sent gift boxes to 20 different states, even as far as Alaska and Hawaii. Still Poppin’ also regularly attends pop-up events throughout the city to help build brand awareness and increase revenue.
The Future is Bright
Whitfield believes the future looks bright for her business. After some staffing challenges, she said she has a good team in place and is ready to expand. The goal is to not only expand the business locally, but to other states, too.
She is getting ready to launch a monthly subscription box membership service for customers. The subscription includes four to five bags of popcorn and a small surprise gift each month. Customers can choose from sweet and savory flavors, or premium flavors with chocolates and nuts.
No matter what, Whitfield said that she plans to keep sharing love with her products.
“We love our community,” she said. “We love our popcorn, and we love making it for people who love popcorn.”