Story by
Jennifer Willhite

The ever-expanding and well known Not Just Popcorn business in Edinburgh has moved to its newest location at 101 E. Main Cross St.

Formerly home to Schaffer’s Pharmacy, the new location is quickly filling with all things popcorn. The business is owned by Edinburgh resident Carole Buck.

In addition to her new location, Buck, 79, recently has taken on a business partner, John Bragg of Nashville, who is assisting her with marketing and expanding inventory to include locally made fudge and ice cream.

“Everything is done by hand and the shop has that homey feeling to it, like family,” said longtime employee Kim Buck, Carole’s daughter-in-law. Workers can still get rushed. For example, the store recently received an order from Sprint for more than 100,000 bags of popcorn.

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In addition to the daily popping, the business offers group tours of the facility and all its inner workings. Each November, Not Just Popcorn is a stop for the Girl Scouts. Another group that has an annual tour is the FFA.

And it was during one of the FFA tours that Carole Buck received her most unusual request for a popcorn flavor.

“The only one I refuse to make is Copenhagen,” she said. “It was from a 16-year-old girl from Mississippi. I asked, ‘Why would you want me to make that?’ And she answered, ‘Because I chew.’”

Carole Buck said the inspiration for her hundreds of flavors often is inspired by customer requests. And the most popular among the flavors is Pregnancy Mix — a dill pickle and ice cream combination.

She said there are very few flavors that her business cannot duplicate. However, carrying all flavors all the time is not realistic, so special orders always are accepted.

But when it comes to ordering on the fly, customers should fear not. The menu is broken into categories and flavors fitting each are listed within their individual groups, such as savory, gourmet and premium.

For instance, premium flavors include baklava, horehound and turtle cheesecake. If your taste is more along the lines of blooming onion, coconut curry or honey mustard, you might prefer the savory flavors. Gourmet flavors range from hot and sassy to sweet, spicy and bold such as hot candy-coated jalapeno, Jack & Cola and pumpkin spice. Additional categories include chocolate-covered and Carole’s Best Cheddar.

The owner of Not Just Popcorn said the genesis of her popping business occurred during the 1986 holiday season. A friend asked if she would mind a popcorn kiosk in Anderson, and Buck says she drove every day for almost three months to run it. Soon after, she seized an opportunity to buy the equipment when the owners filed for bankruptcy.

Not Just Popcorn was born.

Buck opened her first location at Edinburgh Premium Outlets in 1989 with eight popcorn flavors. She said she soon thought it would be fun to offer 15 flavors, then 25. Today, she offers customers a whopping 403 flavors.

“I didn’t see it expanding to what it is today,” she said.

Now, decades later, Buck employs more than a dozen people, including her 79-year-old husband, Bill.

Although she has gotten the art of popcorn down to a science, she said the tasks that all small business owners face, such as taxes and payroll, have presented the greatest challenges.

“Most people think, ‘Oh you make popcorn! You must be making millions!’” Buck said. “Well, let me tell you, I’m certainly not. It has been a struggle.”