There is a little hidden treasure in downtown Montgomery and it is popping up some fresh and tasty popcorn.
Since 2007, Montgomery Popcorn Company has been pleasantly surprising passersby, and that is just what owner Ken Eggert had in mind when he picked the tucked away spot.
“A lot of people don’t realize there is a downtown Montgomery,” said Eggert who lives in town and grew up visiting his grandparents, Mildred and Art Johnson, who still live down the street. But Eggert, who grew up in Aurora, sees the charm of the quaint downtown.
The tiny shop that he is in at 112 ½ S. River St. appeals to him because of it’s small size and location. “It’s right on the bike path,” he said.
Popcorn is now a staple in downtown Montgomery, and Eggert is a familiar sight, standing behind the counter donning a white apron and turning a hot air popper. The small shop is located behind and was formerly home to a few different pizza places.
Eggert, 41, was an equity trader in downtown Chicago when a career change popped into his head.
“I got tired of the stress,” he said. He’d gotten into the habit of grabbing bags of popcorn from popular shops in Chicago and taking them home on the train to his two children.
“I have a big entrepreneurial spirit,” he said of the bug to leave the world of finance and start his own business. Eggert added that he was interested in opening a concession-type business and popcorn was a good niche.
“It was kind of a big change,” said Eggert, who runs the shop with his wife, Stephanie. “I make it and sell it. She does all of the paperwork,” he said.
With his kids being older (his teenage daughter helps out), he says he can afford to spend the time needed to make a small business work.
And so far, the career change has been a good one for Eggert. He leaves the stress to the customers now: butter, cheese, caramel or a combo?
It’s a decision that regular customers like Linda Potter, of Oswego, have no problem making.
“This popcorn is fantastic. It’s incredible. It’s always fresh,” she said.
Eggert credits the addictive taste to his air-popper, which uses natural gas, eliminating the need for oil. Plus, it's healthier, he said.
Montgomery Popcorn also offers candied varieties like apple, cherry, cinnamon and strawberry. And Eggert will happily whip up flavored popcorn, like hot and spicy, on demand.
Eggert pops popcorn at the shop five days a week and keeps busy during the warmer months doing the festival circuit and farmers markets. “It helps build the business up,” he said.
Eggert recently purchased a concession truck and is looking forward to converting it into a popcorn mobile. They are also looking to expand and open up shops elsewhere.
“People come from all over,” he said.
Not bad for a shop that is off the beaten path.
Montgomery Popcorn is open 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Keep up with them on Facebook at Montgomery Popcorn Company.