NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Across the Cumberland River in East Nashville, the hypnotic smells of popcorn fill the air along the 2500 block of Gallatin Avenue B. If your car window is rolled down at Chester Avenue your eyes will eventually follow your nose to a colorful sign that says "Kernels Gourmet Popcorn."
Trading posts and farms once dotted this neighborhood back in the 1870's. Today, East Nashville's funky, artsy, vibe attracts people from all backgrounds. And according to three sisters, who grew up here, plenty of them love eating popcorn.
"We wanted to stay in the community. A lot of things we did ourselves like the floors. Just us three, we did the floors. Yes. We painted and everything," said Jennifer Knight.
Jennifer Knight, Erica Greer, and Amber Greer said their popcorn dreams began 12 years ago.
"We all got together, and we were talking during the holidays. And I posed a question. Wouldn't it be great if we had a gourmet popcorn store here in Nashville," said Jennifer Knight.
Knight admits the idea was hers but says her two sisters are the glue that keeps everything together and running smoothly day in and day out. And when you walk into their business it's clear these ladies have a passion for popcorn.
"Yes. It's scary. Yes. You know it's going to take a lot of work. But, if you have a passion for something it's not going to feel like work. And you should just go for it," said Erica Greer.
Running Kernels Gourmet Popcorn is hard work, but all three sisters say they're thrilled to be in business together.
"The fun part is working with family. It may be the hardest part also," chuckled Amber Greer.
With help from other family members, these three entrepreneurs pooled their money, dedicated their time and resources and got busy.
Erica's husband, Kendall Greer, works here as well, doing whatever he can to help out. We watched as he helped one customer carry a large order to her car.
Whether it's scooped, coated or swirled, customers are finding hidden gems inside Kernels Gourmet Popcorn. Most of them seem thrilled to be able to get something fresh and so delicious. Robert Foriest bought two tins.
"There's nothing else better in this entire city than this. Like the popcorn is fantastic," said Foriest, a regular customer, who started gobbling the popcorn he had just purchased right in front of us.
The sisters even give local high school students a chance to taste their success twice a week. Students Kayla and Sean were hard at work, scooping, dipping, and learning the finer points of making popcorn and dealing with customers.
"They're our Big Picture interns. They work here. Big Picture has a program where they do internships on Tuesday and Thursday of the week," said Erica Greer.
I'm learning how the business is run. And learning how to make different flavored popcorn," said Sean Jones, a freshman student at Nashville Big Picture High School.
Jones also admits he likes sampling what he makes. And who wouldn't enjoy this job? You can find at least 14 different flavors here, but the ingredients are a secret.
One popular offering here is Nashville Hot Popcorn. They actually ran out of it while we were filming inside the store.
No worries. Amber Greer made a new batch that I eventually decided to sample. All I can say is that the spice in the Nashville Hot Popcorn is sneaky good. Just when you think it's not coming - Bam!
Wowing customers is what this business seems to do with regularity. One woman walked up to the counter without calling ahead and ordered 4 tins of specialty popcorn and an extra bag.
The sisters managed to complete her order without missing a beat. They told News 4 that they've grown accustomed to people walking into their store, sampling various flavors, and getting hooked. Music City Mix and Nashville Hot Popcorn are their two best sellers.
Jennifer Greer says it's all about "bringing good popcorn to everyone's family." So the next time you drive through this East Nashville neighborhood remember to follow your nose.