For some reason — perhaps its proximity to the corn-growing meccas of the Midwest — Kansas City is a capital of popcorn, with two longstanding companies turning out tons of it every year, especially during the holiday season.
Just how important is that seasonal surge?
“We lose money every month of the year except December,” said Topsy’s owner Bob Ramm, who’s in his 47th holiday season in the popcorn business. “The company earns 200 percent of its annual income during the month of December. Fifty percent of its sales are in the holiday season.”
Just across the state line in the suburb of Westwood, Kansas, Velvet Creme is deep in its seasonal rush as well.
“The volume is terrific,” said Jerry Wright, who married into the third generation of the family-owned Velvet Creme business. “We have 10 full-time employees the rest of the year. We have 52 this season. We’re working 12- or 13-hour days six days a week.”
Though both companies thrive on online catalog and wholesale sales, from a retail angle, Topsy’s has the edge. The retailer has 13 branded stores and a geographical spread of outlets in Kansas City, Kansas City, Kan., Independence, Lee’s Summit, Grandview, Overland Park, St. Joseph and Topeka. Velvet Creme’s sole shop is at its headquarters on Belinder Road.
Both Topsy’s and Velvet Creme say the business model works, and are both growing in sales volume each year.
Read more: Kansas City Star