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  • 20 May 2015
  • Steven Carse

Stay Fresh and Stay Local: How the King of Pops Helps Create a Strong Community

In 2009, my brothers and I were on vacation in Central America and discovered fresh fruit ice pops called paletas sold by the locals from roadside carts. When we returned to Atlanta, we could not stop dreaming about those fruit pops. During that time I was laid off from my corporate job, so I saw the opportunity to turn our dream into reality. In 2010, we took the leap of faith to start our own frozen pop business, and King of Pops was born. With the help of my brother Nick, our family and friends, we began to experiment with different techniques, flavors and recipes to recreate the pops from our Central American adventure.

Growing the Pops Business

After hard work, countless hours and many taste tests, we rolled up our first cart to a street corner in Atlanta. Since that time, our company has expanded rapidly and accumulated a strong fan base. We capitalized on the rapid success from our first year and decided to take King of Pops across the Southeast.  We now have kitchens, shops and carts in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Starting with 20 pop flavors and 10 customers on the first day, we now offer more than 400 flavors and serve upwards of 15,000 customers on a hot summer Saturday.

Starting with 20 pop flavors and 10 customers on the first day, we now offer more than 400 flavors and serve upwards of 15,000 customers on a hot summer Saturday.

For any small business owner experiencing rapid growth, I recommend finding the time to sit back and look at the big picture. Expansion brings lots of moving parts and pressure to constantly work, so this quiet, break time is not only necessarily, it’s critical. When the day-to-day work can seem overwhelming, a strategic pause allows time to reflect and plan for the future.

It’s important to find joy in your work and have fun. Our employees are friendly people who enjoy working at King of Pops and this positive energy, spirit and vibe is something that defines our brand. The happiness of our employees shines through to our customers. With high presence and traffic on street corners, festivals, concerts, outdoor events and evening weddings, our pop business is also a community business. We take pride in providing a fun, sweet treat that gives each customer a moment of relaxed bliss.

Supporting the Atlanta Community

At King of Pops, we are proud of our locale and encourage our community to be part of our business. From a free yoga night to a free celebration for our fifth anniversary, we invite everyone to experience more than just popsicles, and these small gestures can go a long way in helping to bring people together.

Spreading our local roots in Atlanta, my brothers and I purchased a 68-acre farm property outside the city in 2014. With a nursery, greenhouses and open farmland, growing our own herbs and fruit keeps our ingredients local and fresh. The experience with our first farm has only fueled my appetite for more smaller farms across the Southeast. I want to ensure every pop has the best, fresh ingredients we can find, and what better way to ensure this than to grow our own. And we think it’s something the community should see, so residents are invited to come to our farm and learn about edible gardening. This brings us one step closer to our customers and fosters a mindset to support the local community.

Sharing the Pops Story

Last week, I had the honor of co-hosting The UPS Store Small Biz Salute evening networking event at the Skylounge in downtown Atlanta. I was humbled to share my story in a room of such interesting and excited entrepreneurs and small business owners. The UPS Store provided a rare opportunity for the Atlanta small business owner community to unite, share best practices and learn from each other in a relaxed, open setting, which, as I mentioned earlier, is critical to success.

From a small conversation of advice to exchanging business cards for a budding partnership, the attendees were eager to network, share and learn. There were small business owners and entrepreneurs present from all steps of the business process. Some needed encouragement to take the leap of faith and start their venture, and others wanted help with managing new products or markets. The UPS Store did a wonderful job of creating a vibrant and celebratory environment for everyone to share their story while gathering great tips for the next step in their journey.

Thanks again to The UPS Store for their support of the small business community in Atlanta and nationwide. As my King of Pops journey continues, I hope to see every entrepreneur taking action to support their local community. Every gesture, big or small, can truly make a difference.

Steven Carse, CEO of King of Pops, founded King of Pops in the summer of 2010 with the help of friends and family, hard work and a little bit of luck. Never getting too big for his britches, you can usually find him at the “corner” in the Poncey-Highlands slinging pops and wearing his cowabunga hat and K.O.P. t-shirt.

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