New store “popped” into the student center this year

Two MU students open What’s Poppin’ Gourmet Popcorn Company in the Student Center through the Unions Entrepreneurial Program.

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Through the Unions Entrepreneurial Program, What’s Poppin’ Gourmet Popcorn Company LLC. opened its doors in early September. Run by co-owners Mikal Slatton and Naomi Collier, What’s Poppin’ offers all kinds of sweet treats for students. The store is located in the west end of the MU Student Center.

What’s Poppin’ was chosen to open in the student center for their exceptional business plan and presentation, Heath Immel, entrepreneurial committee member, said. Immel commended the business for its strong leadership team and tasty product, which it allowed the committee to sample in five different flavors.

What’s Poppin’ is currently offering five different flavors of popcorn known as its “Starting 5”; Plain Jane, Cookies N’ Cream, The Taste, St. Louis Style and Mr. Carver are all sold in small, medium, large or gallon sized bags for $5, $6, $8 and $20 respectively. Students not only can buy in store, but they can buy online and have popcorn shipped domestically as well.

All of the popcorn sold at the store is handmade in Columbia from original recipes, Slatton said.

Both Collier and Slatton attribute much of their success to Immel and entrepreneurial committee member Amanda Purchase Roberts from Missouri Student Unions, Naomi’s dad Brian Collier for helping them build the storefront displays and Campus Dining Services Retail Operations Manager Alan Petersen for helping them develop their business model.

“To imagine our business is barely one year old and we already have a physical storefront is insane sometimes,” Slatton said.

What’s Poppin’ will be appearing all over campus as they have already started collaborating with a few organizations to help feed their events this year. Collier and Slatton say they would love to work with any organization or club on campus; they even have special promotional packages for their collaborators.

The store will be in the student center from now until May 2019. However, Collier and Slatton currently have plans to expand their business including potential markets in Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Colorado Springs, Colorado to name a few.

The Union Entrepreneurial Committee is made up of U.S. Bank staff, professor Greg Bier from the College of Business and the Missouri Student Unions staff. After initial applications are reviewed, the top groups are invited to present their business proposals in front of the committee, Immel said. The final decision is made after these presentations.

What’s Poppin’ is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, unless extended hours are announced on their social media platforms.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp | asharp@themaneater.com

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