Their venture began during a conversation at the dinner table. Faced with retirement and business closings fast approaching, the two were in search of something new. Brainstorming sessions led them to the idea of opening a popcorn store. Research included tastings from a host of places and eventually to locally owned Campbell’s Sweets Factory.
“We learned there’s a technique to making really good popcorn,” Przybylowicz explains. “Jeff Campbell took us on a popcorn tour. He showed us the process of making popcorn. He removed 10 degrees from the cooking temperature to show us how it affected the size of the kernels. He explained the importance of where it’s grown.” (Ohio is one of the largest producers of popcorn in the country.)
With their popcorn vendor in place, the women found purveyors of unique candy and gifts. They decided to make their own peanut and cashew brittle from Przybylowicz’s mother’s much-in-demand recipe.
Next, they needed a location. As residents of Amherst, their search began there. Then Przybylowicz’s daughter suggested Oberlin, recalling her first job at Yesterday’s Ice Cream, a local institution. To their amazement, the store was vacant. “It was meant to be,” Przybylowicz says.
But the new store needed a name. Bigrigg started Googling. She found ‘tuck shop,’ a name given to canteens in Great Britain that offer candy and sweets. Not only did it fit; it suited the diverse Oberlin community. “There are people who come in and tell us they immediately knew what it was,” Przygylowicz says.
Then the pair decided to add another reason for customers to go there — so they introduced the popcorn bar. In truth, it’s not a bar at all. It’s a salad or sundae bar-style concept using popcorn. Picture a table decorated with vases filled with different kinds of popcorn — guests choose their favorites from a selection of salty, savory or sweet options. Color selections are based on party or holiday themes.
The concept has been a success. The Tuck Shop started scheduling popcorn bars at weddings, engagement parties and corporate functions. Although all popcorn bars feature popcorn, their implementation is flexible. Set-up, clean-up and vases, as well as decorated trees, are offered as options. Customers may create their own popcorn bars, ordering popcorn from the Tuck Shop’s extensive selection of more than 25 flavors and numerous special colors and using their own containers and decorations.
The Tuck Shop handled a popcorn bar at Lorain County Chamber of Commerce’s holiday party. It offered cinnamon, pomegranate, salt-and-pepper and Campbell’s award-winning Dichotomy, a blend of sweet, crunchy caramel and premium cheddar cheese.
“The response we had was overwhelming,” Przybylowicz says.