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Still poppin': Mountaineer Popcorn continues serving customers through pandemic

April 24, 2020
Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff , Shepherdstown Chronicle

SHEPHERDSTOWN -- Mountaineer Popcorn owner Erin Valasek has never been forced to close her business since its founding four years ago.

"Our business has been here for three-and-a-half years. We've had our shop since fall 2016," Valasek said of the business' location at 102 East German Street, mentioning she had started the business as a stand at a local farmers market in spring 2016.

When she realized that she would have to temporarily close her business' physical location to the public last month, to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, she had to do some quick thinking to figure out how she could safely keep providing gourmet popcorn to her customers.

Article Photos

Mountaineer Popcorn owner Erin Valasek delivers a customer's order to her van on April 3. Tabitha Johnston

"It's food. For many people, it's something familiar and it brings happiness," Valasek said, explaining why she knew her customers would still want to order her popcorn through the pandemic. "This is a hard time for a lot of the kids and their parents, too, so I think a lot of families like to get popcorn for their kids or for themselves, to help them get through this time.

After feeling out what kind of service her customers would prefer, Valasek decided she could continue selling her popcorn over the phone or online. Customers who pre-ordered popcorn from her could pick it up through contactless drive-thru pickup on German Street on Fridays, through shipping in the mail or through direct delivery from the shop to their homes.

Valasek ensured the safety of her staff and customers, by cutting down on the number of staff members she had running the shop and coming in contact with the popcorn blends from around 10 down to two--herself and the shop's manager.

"We only have one person doing products and packaging, our manager. And then I just have been dealing with shipping and delivery. No one is in the shop together," Valasek said. "So many people want our popcorn, and it's a favorite local treat."

Although the business has experienced a decrease in orders, it is still offering almost as wide of a selection of popcorn blends as it normally would. The popcorn blends on the menu change weekly, according to Valasek.

"So, basically we are doing our core flavors right now, and then mixing in a few others," Valasek said, mentioning the flavors have included Buffalo Cheddar, Dill Pickle, Cookies 'n Cream, Crabby Caramel, Jalapeo White Cheddar and Birthday Cake.

She began selling her newest popcorn blend, Stay Home Munch, for the first time this week. While some of the popcorn blends are simply popcorn with special seasoning, the Stay Home Munch "is a mix of our best-selling white cheddar and salted caramel peanut popcorns, tossed with pretzels, wasabi peas, sesame sticks and rice crackers," according to Valasek.

"We're definitely going to try to continue this. The customers have been awesome, so flexible with flavors and getting their popcorn from us," Valasek said.

To make an order, text or call 410-937-4612, visit mountaineerpopcorn.com or email info@mountaineerpopcorn.com.

 
 
 

 

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