Popical Popcorn had just started to build up its clientele. The gourmet popcorn store, opened in June in Clearwater across from Spectrum Field, had stocked up on extra supplies for the spring break crowd, including baseball fans at the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training.
Then concerns over the coronavirus began to grow.
“It was going to be a strong spring, but I had to hit the brakes,” Popical owner Lynn Roberts said.
Roberts temporarily closed Popical to the public two weeks ago in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. She pops into her little shop to accommodate curbside pickup and delivery for special orders and for regulars who tell her they need their “fix.”
She has also taken on a new project: giving away her signature snack to nursing home staff across Pinellas County.
The donations of organic popcorn, made with corn sourced from Pennsylvania, near Amish Country, kicked off with a customer who wanted to treat the employees at her mother’s nursing home to Popical.
That guest wasn’t alone. Roberts said several of her customers work in these facilities or buy additional popcorn for nursing home team members when they go to visit a relative.
“I figured they’re probably some of the most underpaid and overworked, not that everyone isn’t,” Roberts said. “But they’re probably needing a blessing at this time.”
She comped the first customer’s order, then started accepting donation requests by phone and email earlier this week.
The extra supplies Roberts ordered for spring training and spring break now have a purpose. And she said it’s easy to pop a lot with her commercial equipment, although packing everything into individual bags is a different story. The process takes some time.
It’s all right, though. Roberts said the donations are a good distraction. They keep her off social media, away from the news.
More than anything, they “just felt like the right thing to do.”
One customer is picking up 150 bags of donated popcorn at the end of the week. On Monday, another 150 are going out.
Popical is a one-woman operation. The store carries 20 or so flavors of both sweet and savory popcorn that can be mixed to create endless combinations.
There’s everything from salted caramel and movie theater butter to English toffee with walnut and sriracha honey.
Roberts doesn’t have a timeline for how long the donations will continue. She’s seeing where they go.
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“It’s really a small thing I’m doing in the grand scheme, but everybody’s got to do their part,” she said.
(727) 744-4191. popicalpopcorn.com.
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