Emerging Entrepreneur – Cravings Gourmet Popcorn, LLC
Walking into Cravings Gourmet Popcorn on Turner Street in Lansing’s Old Town district is a treat for the senses. There are giant glass jars crammed full of bright golden-colored caramel-flavored popcorn, free to sample of course, and giant silver refillable popcorn tins that are attractive in their own understated way. And don’t forget the throwback green and clear glass soda pop bottles lining the shelves.
Jordan, who founded Cravings Gourmet Popcorn in 2007 in rented space at the old Lansing City Market, carries with him a competitive spirit that drives the 39-year-old to run the best business he can.
“I’m never satisfied with the status quo, or with just being good. We can always get more out of ourselves, and push others to be their best; so it is also about inspiring others. The story is not to be the best popcorn maker in the world. For me it is more about being the best boss and giving my employees the best experience I can so the customer is treated very well. It isn’t glamorous work, but I think everyone should feel good about what they do,” Jordan says.
Jordan, whose initial investment to launch the business was $5,000, spent many years working in grocery retail and learning everything he could about customer service.
“I started when I was 16 years old at the former Goff store in Carriage Hills in East Lansing. I worked for Sam’s Club and then Kroger. I worked in management, human resources and recruitment. All of that experience helps me today.
“But I have so many opportunities in front of me now that I would not have seen if not for owning my own business. Opportunities to grow the business and meet new people. The Old Town community is a big part of that. We all work together for the greater good. I love Old Town for the fact that people really do strive to work together,” Jordan says.
While many of Jordan’s loyal customers walk into Craving’s brick and mortar store, which employs five to seven people, even more are finding his gourmet popcorn and classic soda pop online. He regularly uses his website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media to promote his business.
“Social media are critical. So many people are influenced today by Facebook and Twitter and a video on YouTube. Internet sales have been a very important part of our business. It has really helped expand the business. We fill orders from all over the country.
“I tell people there is no better time in history to be an entrepreneur,” Jordan continues. “There are so many tools and resources out there to add exposure and promote yourself and your business and meet people, and a lot of those resources are free to use. Of course, your time does cost money, but the ways you can leverage your time and leverage your money have never been greater.”
Jordan is a longtime popcorn connoisseur who loves his product and is constantly at work in the test kitchen to concoct new Craving’s mixes. “We are better because we use fresh ingredients. We use fresh and local butter and spices. We use better ingredients than you can get from a typical popcorn supplier. For instance, we use local cider in our flavorings from Uncle John’s Cider Mill. To make it gourmet we use real ingredients and keep it local,” he says.
Soda pop remains a big part of the business, he adds, and the more flavors and different styles he carries the more excited people get. The store carries the eccentric Jones soda brand and other traditional lines.
Jordan’s original seven-year plan when he started the company called for franchising of his idea at the end of those seven years. His goal from the very beginning with every decision he’s made, he says, has been to make it able to be duplicated.
“Will the systems that work here in Old Town work in East Lansing, Grand Rapids or somewhere else across the state? I think we can duplicate it. The first step is to open a second store myself to apply what I’ve learned to a new location and make it work. Those are my intentions and I’m still on track.”
Short-term plans call for a Cravings Express store based upon the Old Town model, but even more exciting for Jordan is a full-size Cravings store, also in the planning stages, that will include a show-and-tell production area and 600 plus varieties of glass bottle soda pop, plus branded swag like T-shirts and bottle openers.
“Lansing is a tremendous place that gives an opportunity to people who want to launch their dreams. People can take advantage of a lot of resources here. Owning your own business is not for everyone. It’s hard work; but for anyone with ambition and a dream, they should go for it.”
Cravings Gourmet Popcorn & Soda Pop Market
Chad Jordan, Owner
1220 Turner St.