MORTON — A new business is about to pop into downtown Morton.
The Great American Popcorn Co. of Morton is to open at 126 S. Main St. in a few weeks.
Owned by Greg and Mary Lou Nichols, the store will have about 40 flavors of popcorn for sale, along with homemade fudge and 24 flavors of ice cream from the Chocolate Shoppe of Madison, Wis. Yes, there will be pumpkin-flavored goodies.
Some people have said downtown Morton has too many offices and not enough retail establishments. Greg Nichols said he’s heard the complaints, and he agrees. That’s why he thinks the village is ready for a popcorn store, and he’s willing to make an investment in the downtown area.
Greg Nichols is a financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial. The Great American Popcorn Co. is in his former office. He moved into a 2,400-square-foot office at 501 N. Morton Ave., in Morton in September after working out of the 1,700-square-foot South Main office since 1999. He owns both buildings.
Mary Lou Nichols is an analyst with State Farm in Bloomington.
For Greg Nichols, popcorn is a passion.
“Anytime we travel, I try the popcorn there,” he said.
He’s a big fan of the Great American Popcorn Co. of Galena. So much that he’s negotiated a licensing agreement to sell its product at his store. The popcorn will be popped in Morton.
“It’s the best popcorn around,” he said. “There are dozens and dozens and dozens of flavors, and they’re all good. We have access to more than 250 of their recipes.”
The popcorn store will be a short walk from where the downtown plaza and The Jefferson retail-apartment complex will be built, within shouting distance of the epicenter of the Morton Pumpkin Festival and other community events, and a few blocks from Jefferson Elementary School.
“The location didn’t hurt our decision-making process,” he said. “We should get a lot of foot traffic there.”
He said the decision to finally pursue his longtime ambition of opening a popcorn store came down to two factors.
“It had to be a good investment. That was my requirement, of course,” he said. “My wife wanted it to be a fun place.”
Greg and Mary Lou Nichols received a $5,000 facade grant from the village of Morton earlier this year to help transform the front of the South Main building from a financial advising office to a popcorn store. Grant money comes from business district sales tax revenue.
Three or four full-time employees and 10 to 15 part-timers will be hired to work at the popcorn store, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 or 8 p.m. Sunday.
For information on the business, go to its Facebook page. Greg Nichols said the page attracted 760 friends in its first 10 days online.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his Stein Time blog on pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.