Making Delicious Decisions at the Farmers Market
Regulars often munch Colonial Kettle Corn while enjoying the market’s sights and scents.
How many strawberries will be eaten this week? Which leafy greens and pastries? A little something to munch on now, or a big something for dinner later?
There are many questions to answer while shopping at the Kingstowne Farmers Market every Friday, but for many regulars the answer to the last one is obvious: a little something in a big bag, and they can find it at the far end of the market.
Judy Payne said Colonial Kettle Corn has been a vendor as long as there has been a Kingstowne Farmers Market. She and husband Troy bought the two-year old business in 2001, and these days they alternate weeks spinning the treat to salty-sweet perfection for market shoppers.
“We had a lot of customers that come and tell us it’s the only way they could get their kids to come with them to the market, if they promise them kettle corn,” Payne said of her Kingstowne fans. “A lot of times they say they came to get fruits and vegetables, and they end up going home with kettle corn.”
Payne said she loves those kinds of stories, but the love of family actually launched the business. “I’d just had my daughter and wanted to be able to stay home with her, so that’s why we started the business,” she said. Payne wanted to leave her job with an internet service provider, and her husband wanted something he could do while continuing his remodeling business. “We really enjoyed the kettle corn, and when we looked at what the possibilities were for the business we decided that it was a good fit for us.”
“We didn’t really know too much about the business itself,” Payne said. “We had to learn all that.” So they did. Colonial Kettle Corn can now participate in three events simultaneously, sell favors for weddings and business gatherings, sell kettle corn online, and be found in some Giant stores. The Paynes also added another daughter. It may not be what you’d think of as an obvious stay-at-home mom’s job, “but it’s been fun,” Payne said.
When the Paynes are not cooking up kettle corn, they’re cooking up ideas for ways to keep the business popping. “We may eventually branch out,” Payne said, but they want to do it while “looking to just continue to provide a good product.”
A good product and fun customer stories sounds like a career that’s all fun and games, right? “There’s certainly parts of it that aren’t fun,” Payne laughed, “like when it’s 90 degrees on an August day and you’re stuck cooking next to that very hot kettle.” But that hot kettle is a hot property in the winter. “We’ll do some craft fairs and things like that into December,” Payne said, “and everybody comes and flocks around us on those days because we do have a source of heat.”
The forecast calls for plenty of heat for this week’s farmers market. Hopefully the thunderstorms will hold off long enough for Payne’s husband Troy to take his turn working the kettle.
P.O. Box 279, Catharpin, VA 20143, 703-402-4805, http://colonialkettlecorn.com/index.html
Kingstowne Farmers Market Hours: Fridays, 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.