Craving something sweet like cheesecake, salted caramel or cotton candy? Or in the mood for a savory taste — salt and vinegar, everything bagel or dill pickle, perhaps?
Northern Neck Popcorn Bag features all those flavors and dozens more. Browse the website or better yet step inside the shop at 6620 Main Street in the Gloucester Village. The smells will tempt you along with the flavors for every palette.
Terri and Kevin Crowder own the shop, one of three in the Northern Neck. The inaugural store opened in Kilmarnock in 2016 followed by the Main Street location here in Gloucester, and now another in Warsaw.
“Finding this business was really a full circle kind of moment for me,” said Terri, a fourth-generation entrepreneur, whose introduction to business dates back to working her grandmother’s stand, Millie’s Snowballs, on the Colonial Beach boardwalk.
“Even before the snowball stand, I played store in her pantry,” Terri said. “I learned to count change and learned how to take customers at just 7- or 8-years-old.”
Crowder ran her own direct marketing company, multi-location automotive repair business and spent years in software sales. After an afternoon at a friend’s popcorn shop, she answered the call back to entrepreneurship. Over lunch with Kevin at NN Burger in Kilmarnock, she knew she found the place to start.
“I like to say I switched from motor oil to canola oil,” she quipped.
They had so much foot traffic from Gloucester in the Kilmarnock store that it made sense to add a store there in 2018. The space is just a little under 500-square-feet and includes a unique piece of artwork of the Gloucester Courthouse, painted in 1963.
Crowder encourages customers to sample as many kinds as they’d like before making a choice; the top 18 flavors are combined in a “bestseller” boxes and a smaller version includes the top 12. You can also build your own tin, sized at 1, 2 or 3.5 gallons. Nothing outsells the Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel.
“I make new flavors every day of the week because I get inspiration everywhere,” said Crowder, who recently revamped the key lime pie flavor after visiting Florida. A trip to Universal Studios led to the Butter Beer flavor, a butterscotch cream soda taste. Another flavor celebrates Whitley’s Peanuts.
Holidays are always an excuse to introduce a new flavor. A customer created the profile for the Valentine’s Day release — cotton candy with conversation hearts scattered throughout topped by white chocolate.
“We’re coming into March Madness, which is a great snack time,” Crowder said.
Giving back to the community resonates with the Crowders. NN Popcorn Bag “pops with a purpose” through regular fundraisers with Gloucester High School and recently, Abingdon Elementary in Hayes.
One wildly popular promotion involves names. Every day a new first name is selected to post on an outdoor chalk sign. If you have that name, you get a free snack bag. During February, all of the names honored Black History pioneers. Frederick (for Douglass), Michael (for Jordan) and Amanda (for Gorman) were just a few selections.
They’ve done wedding favors, too, and a recent local business opted to recognize a milestone anniversary by sending popcorn gift bags to all those who supported them during that span.
Northern Neck Popcorn Bag is a family business, which also includes Rob Brauning, Terri’s son, who is CFO and manager.
Find Northern Neck Popcorn Bag at 6620 Main Street near the Gloucester Courthouse. Store hours are Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays, 1-5 p.m.