Selling Kettle Corn In Kansas City

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The economy may be bad, but that apparently doesn't tame the urge to snack. So when Brent Voepel had trouble finding a new job in advertising, he went back to his college gig, selling kettle corn in a Kansas City suburb.


The bad economy apparently is not taming the urge to snack. When Brent Voepel had trouble finding a new job in advertising, he went back to his old college job: selling kettle corn. He's even brought a friend, an out-of-work commodities trader. Reporter Sylvia Maria Gross caught up with Brent Voepel outside a Wal-Mart in suburban of Kansas City, where he was firing up his homemade kettle.

(Soundbite of gas lighter)

Mr. BRENT VOEPEL: I have been running this business since about 2001. I started it to pay my way through college. It's been kind of like a back-up plan for me over the years. And I got laid off and then I took a job that I just really didn't like. So I started looking for other jobs, noticed there just wasn't a whole lot out there. So I was, like, I've got to do something.

(Soundbite of popping corn)

Unidentified Man: Four tablespoons?

Mr. VOEPEL: Four tablespoons, yeah.

Thomas just moved back from Spain. He's currently looking for a job as well. So, I was, like, hey, let's go pop some kettle corn. He was, like, yeah, I'm all about it. We were talking last night, we were, like, well, let's just keep doing this until we find the perfect job, you know. It's like we're kind of our own bosses, and it's just a nice feeling to be in control for once. We're kind of rogue kettle corn makers.

(Soundbite of popping corn)

Mr. VOEPEL: Just a little bit of popcorn salt at the end. Kettle corn is like, it's mainly sweet, but supposed to have a little bit of salt to it. We necessarily don't need popcorn right now, but I'm going to - I'm going to pop it just to keep the smell in the air, you know, keep people curious. That's most of this business.

We sell two different-sized bags, which is $4, and then there's a bigger one. Comparatively speaking, I'm doing much better than I was at my last position. It is cool in that regard but at the same time, you know, I want to exercise my mind. I want to use what I learned in college and use my six years of experience. Yeah, I'm an ad agency guy. I love it. Hear so many bad stories out there of, you know, thousands and thousands of layoffs this month, thousands and thousands this month, and it's just good to persevere.

(Soundbite of popping corn)

NORRIS: Ad man Brent Voepel says he'll keep popping kettle corn until the economy improves. His story was produced by Sylvia Maria Gross in Kansas City.

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