By Audrey Bailey
There’s something sweet in Carmel, and it’s taking the form of freshly popped and packaged popcorn.
Pop Shop, located off of Range Line Road in downtown Carmel, opened last month by owner Lou Sanchez, a man with quite a unique story – a story which has led to preparing and selling popcorn in a shop lined with vintage, vinyl records.
“Occasionally, it gets loud and rowdy in here at the popcorn shop,” Sanchez said while pointing out his record player and speakers.
While growing up, Sanchez’s parents owned and operated gas stations that sold freshly popped popcorn. He fondly remembers growing up in a place where crunchy popcorn was readily available.
“I grew up in a town called Wheaton, Illinois; it’s in Chicago. And, in Wheaton, Illinois, there was a neighborhood popcorn store,” he said. “It was just a cool place for everyone to go, kids, families. But, they didn’t have records. They didn’t have all of this stuff like I have.”
At 25, Sanchez decided he had had enough with the unpredictable Chicago climate and moved to Florida. In 2003, he married his wife Wendy, and the two eventually worked together for Campus Crusade for Christ.
But, when Sanchez and his wife moved from Florida to Indiana, it was not with the intention of opening up a popcorn shop. They initially moved to Indiana to be closer to their son Jonathan, who had been convicted of driving under the influence of heroin, leading to the death of a Michigan woman.
Inspired to help those like his son, Sanchez opened up Carmel Auto Cleaning in March 2015, with the hopes of hiring and giving second chances to convicted felons.
But, throughout the course of several months, Sanchez said he began to feel like it just wasn’t the right fit. And in October, he decided to shut down the operation.
“A couple of employees that I had drove a car into a wall and crazy stuff,” Sanchez said. “I can make popcorn all day long. I can’t clean cars all day long.”
So, he opened a fun and caramel-infused popcorn shop with a prevalent, “pop”-inspired theme.
Carmel Pop shop sells Carmel Lou (buttery sweetness), Lou Cheesey (3X the cheese), Wendy’s Kettle Korn and Plain Shame (free of everything). Customers can get popcorn in paper and plastic bags, tins and even a five-gallon bucket.
And, to go along with the popcorn and pop music vinyl records, Sanchez also offers customers a wide range of sodas.
“My goal one day is to have maybe a 100 different kinds of sodas,” Sanchez said.
Down the road, Sanchez said he hopes to grow his business while still maintaining his ideal, neighborhood-style popcorn shop.
“We’re starting out very small, but maybe someday we’ll grow, and we’ll have a nice little place for everybody to sit,” he said. “But I don’t know, I like it like this.”
Pop Shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week. For more, visit carmelpopshop.com.