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Pop's cool business rolls along

When Joe and Mable Giambruno roll up to a party or a fund-raiser, people line up.

From their gaily painted truck, the Seminole couple sell hot dogs smothered in chili or sauerkraut, popcorn, snow cones, cotton candy, ice cream, hot and cold drinks and even bottled water.

The Giambrunos moved here three years ago from their native St. Clair Shores, Mich., and have become regulars at such local events as the miniature train rides at Largo Central Park, the St. Petersburg Police Department's annual Crime Watch Day program, the Saturday marketplace in downtown Clearwater during the fall and winter and the annual Seminole Pow-Wow.

"Pop's Concessions" works two or three auctions a month and also does birthday parties, family reunions, flea markets and craft shows. "We've even done a horse show," Mr. Giambruno said. "If we do charities, we donate a percentage of our sales. We don't charge any fees to come to an event, we work when we get there."

The couple have established a routine. "She works the window, I make the stuff, we don't talk," he said.

They started Pop's Concessions 22 years ago as a weekend venture. Over the years, they fed hungry and thirsty folks at Thanksgiving Day parades and July 4 celebrations in Detroit, at ethnic fairs and at winter sporting events.

Customers dictate what kind of food they sell, Giambruno said.

"We buy what customers ask for, not what we think they should have," he said.

Mrs. Giambruno, 66, was a homemaker, and her husband, also 66, worked 28 years in maintenance for the Grosse Pointe, Mich., school system. When they moved to Seminole, they decided to expand the business to weekdays. Giambruno also works part-time for the city of Seminole doing custodial work.

"I gotta keep busy. I'm not going to sit in this rocking chair and watch that blue tube every day," he said. "The business doesn't pay the rent, but it lets us buy groceries and put a little away."

Pop's can be reached by calling 398-6088.

Video center casts

Net for shoppers

Cloud 9 Family Entertainment Center in Seminole Mall is offering Internet access as another form of entertainment along with its coin-operated video and ticket games.

To use the Internet, customers buy an access card for $3 a half-hour or $5 an hour. "It's a natural fit with Cloud 9 customers who are mostly kids that like computers and want to show their friends all the exciting stuff on the Net," said Carolyn Hope, the center's manager.

"There is anti-porn software installed on the Internet access terminal to assure parents that kids don't access material not suited for them," she said. First-time users can take free Internet lessons from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays.

Virtual mortgage news

for real-life customers

Brenda Martin of RE/MAX Affiliates at 9400 Seminole Blvd. offers a system that can let home buyers close on a house in as few as five days.

Martin said a prospective home buyer sits down to a computer monitor and is connected to a Virtual Mortgage Network loan counselor who appears on the screen. Within minutes, the counselor can provide the client with loan programs from more than a dozen mortgage companies. The client then selects a mortgage company and the information goes directly to an application form and the underwriter, Martin said.

_ Know of a new or unique business in the greater Seminole area? If so, tell us about it. Send items to Seminole Business, Seminole Times, 710 Court St., Clearwater, Fla. 34616; or fax it to 445-4119. We also are interested in promotions, expansions and major new contracts. Photos can be sent, but not all will be used and they cannot be returned.