Feature Vendor Interview – West Country Kettle Corn

Feature Vendor of the week: West Country Kettle Corn
At last week’s market we caught up with Patsy Erickson from West Country Kettle Corn.

What do you sell?
Kettle Popcorn.

How did you start your business?
We have family in Edmonton that does kettle popcorn and they do very well with it so we though well let’s do it for the fun of it. This is our fifth season now.

Have you been with the ATB Downtown Market for all five of those seasons?

How did you first hear about the ATB Downtown Market? 
I used to work for the fruit truck Souto Farms.

What makes you awesome? Why should people choose you?
Our kernels are nice and puffy. The flavor is excellent, just right. Not too much salt not too much sweet, plus we smell good! We keep our prices reasonable too.

What is something we “must know” about your product?
It’s all made on sight, it’s all fresh.

How do you make kettle popcorn? What is the secret?
The oil, sugar and the kernels go into the popper. When it is done we put it into a pan where it strains all of the small stuff out and then we season it in that pan. You also have to find the right kind of kernels so that you get the puffy kernels, but I’m not going to tell you what kind that is.

Do you like being downtown?
Yes. Love it. No doubt about that one.

What is your favorite thing about the ATB Downtown Market?
My favorite part is the social part with all of the people between vendors and the customers. It’s a great social place. Just being here and enjoying the people it is a great atmosphere this one.

Is there anything that people need to be educated about when it comes to your product?
Just keep eating. Not really, no education.

Does anyone else sell your product?
At other markets that I am not at, yes.

How many markets do you attend?
Seven: Ponoka and [Downtown Red Deer] on Wednesdays, on Thursdays we do Innisfail and Olds, Fridays we do Lacombe and Lakedale (which is Pigeon Lake) and Saturday morning Rimbey.

Do you have a favorite market?
This one, of course! The people they come, they are happy down here and the atmosphere is great. We like Rimbey, Lakedale and Lacombe too. Those 4 are pretty close to each other. Ponoka is my social one because my mother is the market manager. She’s been there for over 30 years now. At our new markets we don’t know a lot of people yet. We like them all.

What do you love about being Downtown?
It’s very well managed that’s one thing, the management is great. We are taken care of very well. It’s well attended by the people. I think because it’s an all food market it’s easier for people who don’t walk to walk around a large market. Those people can come in and get all of their fresh stuff and it’s easier to be able to pick it up. The large markets are great for those who like to do that but here is easier.

Do you have a favorite business on the street or favorite other vendor in the market?
Mark at MSW Meats is an excellent vendor. He is very willing to help anybody at any time. He is definitely a good guy to have at any market. Of course Souto Farms because we used to work with them we have a great relationship with them. Klein’s chickens is another one we are a little closer to. I think it’s all just because we are at other markets together and we kind of get to know each other better.

We usually either go to Vietnamese Subs and Rolls or Quenched down on the other block there. As far as being able to go into other businesses we really just don’t have time during market season.

What Advice would you give to people just starting out?
Smile, be friendly, and talk to people. That’s all.

How do you define success?
Success? I’ve got to be able to make a certain amount of money to make it worth our while, but just enough to keep us going. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot.

Is there anything that you would like to add or that people should know?
I think the biggest thing is, for vendors, they should always respect their market manager and what they ask for. They don’t ask a whole lot. A lot of people complain about what is asked of them and I just feel it is a privilege to be at a farmers market.

To learn more about West Country Kettle Corn, be sure to stop by their booth at this week’s ATB Downtown Market from 4 – 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

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