Sugarwalk Popcorn makes for a sweet treat at East Side Plaza
Popcorn has been around for over 6,000 years, but our love of the classic treat certainly hasn’t diminished in that time. In fact, Americans today consume more than 17 billion quarts of popcorn annually.
Of course, just because it’s an old treat doesn’t mean it can’t get a new twist. Stephen and Emily Walker have taken the concept of popcorn to a whole new level at their store, Sugarwalk Popcorn. Located in Kimco’s East Side Plaza in Shreveport, Louisiana, the shop sells a variety of gourmet popcorn, candy, and soda in a variety of fun, unique flavors and colors.
We asked Sugarwalk Popcorn’s Stephen Walker to tell us a little bit more about this sweet business.
Tell us about Sugarwalk Popcorn. How did the business come to be?
Stephen Walker: Sugarwalk Popcorn is a gourmet popcorn, candy, and soda shop located in Shreveport, Louisiana. We cook all of our popcorn in-house and carry a variety of bulk candy and craft sodas. Emily and I both had great jobs before this, but she commuted to Dallas once a week for about three years and we decided it was time to put down roots in Shreveport. We originally had the idea of doing just a candy and soda shop, but after coming across a gourmet popcorn store in Texas, we decided to hire a consultant and open a store that included all three products.
How did you choose “Sugarwalk Popcorn” as your name?
Walker: Sugar is the main ingredient in the majority of our products and with our last name being Walker, we just combined the two. It also has a fun play on words when we ask people “Have you Sugarwalked today?” or “What’s your favorite way to Sugarwalk?”
What made you choose East Side Plaza as your location?
Walker: We had been looking at a previous location in Shreveport when I came across East Side Plaza and saw a pizza store had closed its doors. We love the location, being on one of the busiest streets in Shreveport, and our neighbors are stores like Dollar Tree, GameStop, Red Mango, and Guitar Center. We worked with Kimco Realty, Persac Properties in Baton Rouge (Kimco’s local representative) and Vintage Realty in Shreveport to secure the lease. Everyone involved made it very easy and we couldn’t be happier.
Who is your typical customer?
Walker: We really don’t have a typical customer because everyone comes in here for a variety of reasons. Some customers come in to purchase popcorn for movie night or a road trip. Some come in for a holiday and purchase gift baskets for their friends and family. We also have sales reps come in and get large orders for their clients.
How many different kinds of popcorn do you serve? What other items can be found on the menu?
Walker: We serve about 50 flavors and mixes of popcorn ranging from original butter to our savories to our chocolate covered popcorn. We also have multiple sports popcorn tins of all the major teams. Our craft sodas feature old fashioned root beers, cream sodas, and even fun flavors for kids like ranch dressing and buffalo wing flavored soda. We carry a large selection of salt water taffy as well.
What is your favorite flavor of popcorn?
Walker: My choice is always between two flavors. I love our homemade regular caramel popcorn and I also love cookies ‘n’ cream, which is made with white chocolate and Double Stuf Oreos. Emily’s favorites are dill pickle and dark chocolate with sea salt.
You have some interesting flavors on your menu. How do you design new flavors? Are there any you hope to add in the future?
Walker: We know we wanted to have some local flavors that pertain to our state, so we decided to do a crawfish flavored popcorn and a Ragin’ Cajun caramel popcorn. Basically we work from the basic ingredient amounts from other recipes and just add new ingredients and experiment until we get it right. We hope to eventually add coffee flavored popcorn to the menu as well as key lime pie. And of course at Christmas time, we will open the white chocolate peppermint popcorn.
How do you promote your business in the local area?
Walker: Right now we have done a guerilla style marketing campaign by using social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), local periodicals and word of mouth. The response from the Shreveport-Bossier City area has been phenomenal and beyond our expectations.
Do you have any tips for small business owners?
Walker: We sure have learned a lot in the past year about many areas of small business. My biggest piece of advice is to get involved and serve your community. Reach out to local non-profits and donate or sponsor local events. Nothing will help the people in the community realize they want to support your business more than them seeing you supporting theirs.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Walker: We are glad to be in business with Kimco Realty and everyone in the company we have met consistently shows they care about helping us grow and market our business!
Looking for a sweet treat near Shreveport, Louisiana? Check out Sugarwalk Popcorn in East Side Plaza or visit www.sugarwalkpopcorn.com.
This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.