WHITING, Kan. (KSNT) – Fourty-five percent of small business owners have said they have earned less than half of their pre-Covid revenue, according to a study done by Alignable, a small business referral network.
To help small businesses, KSNT News is taking the time to highlight local business owners with our Someone You Should Know segment, once a month.
When you meet the Schlaegels in Whiting, it may be for their homegrown popcorn or for tax preparations.
“We started a popcorn business back in 1969,” said Gary Schlaegel, owner of Schlaegel’s Popcorn. “Which is 50 some years ago. I started raising popcorn, and I sat a few gallons of it on my desk when I was doing income taxes, and people started buying it.”
The business started with him just having kernels on his desk for clients who were getting their taxes done by him, kernels he grew in his own backyard.
“In 1994, we decided…People wanted the popcorn popped,” he said. “So we started poppin’ in the basement of the house.”
They’ve been a family business since the first bag was sold. Even the grandkids have come to work in the office, one of them, now taking over and carrying on the “a-maize-ing” legacy of the business.
“There’s something special to drive into your grandma and grandpa’s house every day for work,” said Jacob Yingst, owner of Schlaegel’s Popcorn and the grandson of Gary. “It’s not an opportunity very many people get. It has its challenges like anything else, but at the end of the day, it’s about the most rewarding job you could have. Taking this legacy that your family, your grandparents started and try to carry it on.”
Keeping the business going during a pandemic, and even past this isn’t just about making popcorn and doing taxes for the rest.
“You’re not just supporting somebody’s living, you’re supporting a dream,” Yingst said. “You really are. If I had to shut this down because of the pandemic, I’d not only be ruining my dream, I’d be ruining my grandpa’s dream.”
It’s about carrying on a sweet ambition for generations to come.
Gary is 81 years old still active in both parts of the business. He and his wife, Marian, still wake up and spend the day in the kitchen to keep themselves busy
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