Grand Rapids Downtown Market merchant Dorothy & Tony’s Gourmet Popcorn signed a distribution deal to sell its kettle corn in stores across the Midwest.
Owner Kyle Behm, grandson of co-founders Dorothy and Tony Meyer, said Tuesday that he signed a deal with Okemos-based Baseline Brokers that will put Dorothy & Tony’s Gourmet Popcorn on shelves in specialty stores, universities and ski lodges throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois beginning this fall.
All of its classic flavors, including kettle, cheddar, caramel, Chicago and white cheddar, along with the more niche flavors, dill pickle and jalapeño white cheddar, will be included in the distribution deal.
Dorothy & Tony’s has been located in Grand Rapids since the early 1990s when the Meyers began selling their kettle corn at local farmers markets. The company cultivated a loyal customer base with a history of long lines and sold-out inventory. When the couple retired in 2009, they passed on the family business and secret kettle corn recipe to Behm.
“Kettle corn is a fun, yet healthy snack, and our family recipe is delicious,” Behm said. “It’s the perfect snack to share with the whole family. So, when my grandparents retired and left the business to me, I knew we had the potential to expand beyond farmers markets.”
Behm grew the business into a local retail space, then later moved it to a stall at the Downtown Market, at 435 Ionia Ave. SW in Grand Rapids.
Tyler Richardson, manager of the Downtown Market shop, will coordinate with the brokerage to oversee the distribution venture.
“We’ve experimented with having our kettle corn in chain grocery stores in the past and found that, through the typical distribution process, our product would sit on trucks and in storerooms for so long that it wasn’t up to our freshness standards,” Richardson said. “Preserving the quality, freshness and flavor of this generational kettle corn recipe is so important to us. No matter where you buy a bag of our popcorn, I want it to have the same sweet aroma and fresh taste it does when you buy it at the Downtown Market.
“I trust that we’ve found an efficient distribution process that will meet our standards and allow us to share Dorothy & Tony’s with the Midwest.”