Stephanie Daniels, Features Editor
Everyone has gone shopping and craved a good snack. Sometimes you’re looking for something not as savory as a pretzel or ice cream, but something easy to eat and quick to buy. Often, especially on weekends, finding a convenient snack without having to fight a line is nothing more than a wish.
Nestled within the hustle and bustle of the Saint Louis Galleria mall right in front of Express lies two treat-filled kiosks. Vibrant colors of candy wrappers, hanging racks of chips cascading down the sides and jars branded “Poppabubble” filled with all your favorites call out to passersby . From candies that you enjoyed as a kid to local delicious treats. Whether you’re out with friends looking for a quick treat, in need of a snack to settle your little one as you grab your last item or could use a Tylenol during your shift in the mall, James Brooks, owner of Poppabubble, has you covered.
Poppabubble has been around for three years, but that wasn’t where it all started for owner Brooks. His entrepreneurship started with a smoke shop by the name of Up in Smoke. There, he learned how to run a business, what works and what doesn’t, but Brooks didn’t jump right into his next endeavor with Poppabubble. He went to school for Nursing and was working as an LPN, but his dream of owning a candy shop was in his heart. While out for dinner at the Saint Louis Galleria one night with family, they craved a quick treat. He looked around the mall, but couldn’t find a place where he could grab a small snack at a good price.
“We couldn’t find anything but gum ball machines” said Brooks. He saw a need for what he couldn’t find, and his dream began to take life.
Going with the decision to sell from a kiosk has proven very fruitful for his business. Poppabubble started with a three-month trial, and after just two months Brooks was offered a year extension, but the road to success in his dream wasn’t without adversity.
“A lot of people tried to discourage me, they were like the name Poppabubble was stupid,” Brooks stated.
For entrepreneurs that are up and coming he offers the advice to keep moving forward and never give up. Brooks attributes his success to the support of the community around him. He is constantly seeking feedback on the products he sells and is always updating his inventory to answer the needs of his customers, but he doesn’t just have the customer in mind. Brooks also collaborates with local black business owners to support their products. Three of the businesses he works with are Dee Dee’s Pickles, Suga Momma’s Caramel Cakes, and Krystal’s Gourmet Popcorn and Candy Apples. The traffic at his stand in the mall has yielded a solid expansion in customer base for all three businesses.
Poppabubble not only collaborates with local businesses and provides treats for adults and children alike in the mall, but it also supports causes that are near and dear to most people. Brooks has lead support of fundraisers for lupus, leukemia, Autism and this month Breast Cancer initiatives. He creates T-shirts branded with each initiative and sells them at his stand. Then he donates proceeds from t-shirt sales to local organizations. This past month he raised $200 in sales for Breast Cancer.
The passion and work that Brooks has put into creating a place where friends and families can visit for not only a quick snack but also great energy and conversation is worth noting. The pride he takes in his community shines through in his supporting efforts toward healing and collaboration. If you are ever in need of a snack, pain pill, feminine hygiene product or something to quench your thirst, Poppabubble is worth a try. Stop by sometime and see what initiative the kiosk is supporting and share your thoughts around what products you enjoy or would like to see. If the Saint Louis Galleria is too far of a drive, check out his newest location in Fairview Heights mall. While you’re at it, follow him on social media to stay up to date on what this fun candy kiosk is up to! Facebook: poppabubble stl. Instagram: Poppabubble_stl.