More Than Food: Gourmet popcorn business plans big weekend opening

A glimpse at the storefront of Tasty Time Gourmet Popcorn (credit: Marjorie Willis)
Staff Writer

Marjorie Willis has been busy preparing for the grand opening of Tasty Time Gourmet Popcorn in Starkville this weekend.

The festivities are planned for Saturday, Feb. 18, and will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman.

The new popcorn venture will be operated by Willis to raise funds for local nonprofit NetWORKS. Willis currently serves as the executive director of the organization.

Willis said the goal of Tasty Time Gourmet Popcorn will be to provide a place for local youth to be involved and understand the inner-workings of a business.

A sense of community involvement is a big part of why Willis has been working so hard to get the venture up and running for opening weekend.

“”It’s where my heart goes,” she said. “I feel whatever level a young person is on and I believe all young people can be served and given direction.”

Cheikh Taylor, a board member Tasty Time, told the SDN in an interview that it is important for nonprofits to be healthy financially and not solely dependent on grant money.

The inspiration for the storefront came after a board meeting, which concluded that a smart fundraising venture would be to come up with a product and sell it.

“(Nonprofits) need a product to sell … and Mrs.Willis took that and ran with it and came back with an amazing product with Tasty Time,” he said. “This initial effort is going to make sure this organization is self-sufficient, long-lasting and dedicated to the goal set.”

Willis said her heart for community service can be traced back to her being a young mother and needing the help of those in the community. Her husband Earl Willis is the pastor of Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Starkville, which she also credits as inspiring her toward community service.

Along with her husband, Willis is deeply involved in the church, serving as youth director for Chapel Hill. She has also coached youth basketball for years.

“Sometimes you can’t get everything from the home, like guidance,” she said. “We are a village raising children together.”

Young people from the community will be involved with Tasty Time and learn valuable job skills, which is the overarching goal for NetWORKS. The other labor used will be primarily made up of volunteers.

Taylor said Tasty Time is a heartfelt company that is going to be dedicated to providing services for youth primarily over 12 years old, that may not get all of their needs met at home.

“It was important to get this going instead of waiting on grants,” he said. “One thing the community needs to know is this will be around to stay with the help of Tasty Time.”

The store is located at 204 Highway 12 E, Suite D and the grand opening event will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.