Small business: Popbar brings sweets and unlimited toppings to NoDa

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Kia and Clarence Lyons started talking about opening up their own business while they were still dating. Now, they are married and own Popbar, a franchise business, located in NoDa. Since December they have been selling gelato, yogurt and sorbet on a stick in various flavors.

“I did some research and that’s how I found Popbar,” said Kia, 34. (Clarence is 37.) “The concept was so unique and it looked like so much fun. We ended up going to New York and trying the product and we fell in love with it.”

The pops are made in-house from the recipes and dry mixes provided by the Popbar corporation. They store the pops in the freezers on site, but Kia promises they are fresh since the make them in small batches.

Sorbet pops are $3.49 and yogurt and gelato pops are $3.99. Add unlimited toppings like waffle cone, pistachio and vegan dark chocolate sprinkles for 50 cents. Unlimited dippings such as dark chocolate, mint or caramel chocolate may be added for 50 cents.

Kia answers questions for C5’s Small Business Series:

What does it take to run a small business?

“A lot of time and effort. I knew it was going to be a lot before we got started, but now being in the midst of it, I see that it is so much more. My husband and I work at the store. Then you have all the behind-the-scenes stuff to do – inventory, payroll, ordering supplies. Your day is so much longer than just being at the store.”

How do you divide the work between you and your husband?

“My husband is an engineer and he works his regular job full-time. I try to keep him out of the store as much as possible because he works so hard at his job. But he loves working here. It is more creative. It is fun.

“He usually works on the weekends or covers for me when I have a bunch of errands to run. We both need to have good work/life balance.”

Why did you choose a franchise over starting your own brand?

“There’s much involved in starting a business from the design, the recipes, payroll, picking a payroll company and a credit card processing company. All of those things are above my scope.

“Having a franchise to provide those things makes it so helpful especially when you are a first-time business owner.”

How are you building a strong customer base?

“It has been a lot of fun doing that. We reach out to a lot of foodies and bloggers and invite them into the store so they can share their experience. I follow a lot of them on Instagram. “Social media is like word of mouth. One sorority, ZTAs, posted a photo of us and then the whole house came. That shows you the power of social media.”

Where do you expect your business to be in one year?

“I think it will be beyond my expectations. We are in the middle of growth here in NoDa. You can look out the window here and see a huge apartment complex being built, and then the light rail is opening soon. I cannot imagine how many more people that’s going to bring to the NoDa area.

“I think it is going to be huge, and it will be a matter of thinking ahead to prepare for the extra people.”

Popbar: 3123 N. Davidson St.

Hours: Closed Monday; Noon-8 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday; Noon-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 1-8 p.m. Sunday

Photos: Kia Lyons, Sydney Duarte

Family history and my own fascination with people and their motivations prompted me to begin this series about Charlotte’s small business owners. Industry, situation and questions will vary. Have a suggestion for a small business owner or entrepreneur to interview? Email it to vanessainfanzon@gmail.com with the subject line “Small Business Series.”

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