Harrisburg entrepreneur eyes downtown Lancaster for popcorn company
After three years in the Broad Street Market, gourmet popcorn vendor Mark Wieder is eyeing downtown Lancaster as the place to bag his next growth opportunity.
Wieder, the owner of Popped Culture, said his last day at the Broad Street Market in Harrisburg will be July 21. His goal is to expand the market stand into a standalone retail storefront, and he believes the burgeoning food scene in Lancaster is the place to do that.
"There is only so much I can do with a market stand," he said. "I want to expand. I need to run a retail location."
The 32-year-old former environmental attorney, who is looking for real estate to lease, said Popped Culture could become a franchise in the next few years. He believes an expanding product line will help that franchise effort, along with selling others on the community benefits of the popcorn business.
Popped Culture is a social enterprise that seeks to employ and mentor young entrepreneurs while they pop and sell popcorn.
Wieder is no stranger to Lancaster. He participated in the 2017 Great Social Enterprise Pitch, an annual competition sponsored by Lancaster-based nonprofit Assets and the Lancaster County Community Foundation. He said he realized Lancaster is a hub for businesses that aspire to make positive social or environmental impacts in addition to making money.
Wieder also is coming off a three-month stint in a Harrisburg startup accelerator called Catamaran, where he was working on Poprietor, a web application for young entrepreneurs to showcase their work. He said the Catamaran experience has lit a fire under him to pursue a fresh start.
"I want to help others as a mentor," he said.
As for his space needs in Lancaster, Wieder said he is hoping to find something near Central Market with strong foot traffic. He believes a 1,000- to 1,500-square-foot retail spot will give him the space he needs to take Popped Culture to the next level.
He sees the store employing about five or six people, including three or four people on the youth development side.