I found one of my favorite places in Collingswood almost completely by accident.
My girlfriend and I were strolling down Haddon Ave one afternoon, enjoying the weather and talking about movies—specifically, what we felt like watching for our movie night.
When autumn’s in the air, all I really want to watch are scary movies, something she has no interest in. While we walked, I was trying (and failing) to get her to change her mind. As it happened, right about the time I threw in the towel and agreed to watch something a little more her speed, we noticed we were standing outside of Gourmet Popcorn Creations. The timing was too perfect.
My girlfriend is the kind of person who can’t go to the movies without making herself sick on a giant tub of popcorn swimming in artificial butter, so naturally, we had to pick something out for movie night. This was the first time I met Steven Kreh, the enthusiastic owner of one of the most unique stores you’re likely to find in the area.
When you first step into Gourmet Popcorn Creations, your initial sensation is candy for the senses. Bushels are packed with bright, popping colors. The air is filled with the concentrated aroma of fermented lime and buttery caramel. There are bags of familiar and exotic flavors to sift through, from the expected likes of nacho cheese and ranch to the more bizarre but equally satisfying cherry cola and cheesecake.
The popcorn itself is unique, popped into big, fluffy pieces that shame anything microwaved by Orville Redenbacher. Kreh assures me that this is because all of his popcorn is a special mushroom kernel that comes from the Midwest, one that can’t even be grown around here. The dozens of flavors fall typically on either the sweet or savory side, although some do fall in between. Some regulars include salt and vinegar, Maryland crab and my personal favorite, hot pepper pop.
Gourmet Popcorn Creations began out of Kreh’s home as an unemployment project. Why popcorn? “It was something I stumbled upon,” he tells me. “It’s got a long shelf life, it’s fun and intriguing to me, and there’s no competition.”
Kreh’s interest in creating fun and unique flavors of popcorn took roughly three years to fully form, from concept to grand opening in March, 2011. Collingswood seemed like the perfect location.
Business, as you might expect, did not come easy at first.
“The first year was tough. If I could do it again, I would have budgeted differently,” Kreh says.
Marketing the store wasn’t easy; there was a website, but that didn’t help much. It took a lot of work and patience, but a good product and positive word of mouth helped the store eventually take off.
“At first, about 90 percent of the people I talked to were against it. But soon people changed their tone,” laughs Kreh.
So far, the popcorn business has been pretty good to Kreh. In addition to the store, Gourmet Popcorn Creations does weddings, birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers; you name it. He’s in the process of retooling the store’s web presence into an e-commerce site, something he hopes to launch in the next month. Additionally, with the holidays coming, expect to see some seasonal flavors popping up, including maple walnut, peppermint with dark chocolate and butter rum.
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, what are you waiting for?
- Speaking of rapidly approaching holidays, this is a big time of year for bars and restaurants. Got the inside on something happening in the area? Let me know and I’ll share it here!
- Follow me on twitter, @davevaliante.