LIMA – Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn opened its new store in Lima Monday.
The store, co-anchoring a newly-constructed retail plaza at 435 S. Eastown Rd., is the company’s fifth location overall, and second corporate store alongside the flagship location in downtown Bluffton, Ohio.
Co-founder and CEO Pete Suter said the newest location is the result of a history of strong ties between the Shirley’s brand and the Lima community.
“Over the last several years we’ve done successful fundraisers with Lima-area organizations, created co-branded flavors alongside several colleges, and of course helped customers who made a special trip to Bluffton just to refill their popcorn tins,” said Suter.
“So opening in Lima made perfect sense for us.”
Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn Company, established in 2009, focuses on about a dozen core flavors including Caramel To Die For, Windy City Style, and Dark Salted Caramel, all created by hand, in small batches, locally at each store.
“Gourmet popcorn really isn’t a trend or a fad,” said Suter, explaining the product’s appeal as a timeless American snack that all generations can enjoy. “So we’ve designed each of our stores with bright colors, lots of chances for everyone to sample our flavors, and an emphasis on creating relationships with our customers.”
With a growing web business and additional franchise locations open in Maumee, Findlay, and Westerville, Suter said short-term plans include franchise expansion throughout the region. “Right now we’re talking with candidates interested in opening their own business not only in the major Ohio cities,” said Suter, “but also throughout the Midwest, South, and Northeast.”
Suter said he is confident that Shirley’s will thrive in the Eastown Road building.
“We’ve always known that Lima is a great town, and the people from our local building developer to the convention and visitor’s bureau have all been outstanding to work with,” said Suter. “We are very proud that Lima is the next step in our business growth.”