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12-Year-Old Builds Popcorn Business to Help People in Need

Three years ago, Mason Marshall’s mother gave him $50 with the simple instruction to “do something good.” A few weeks later, Mason set up lawn chairs around a small, 4×4 table outside a gift shop in his North Carolina hometown. From there, he began selling sandwich bags filled with various flavors of homemade popcorn.

Today, Mason sells and ships his popcorn all over the country, offering 45 flavors and buying supplies in 100 pound bulks. His products can be found at farmer’s markets, county fairs, weddings, and more. Rather than keeping the profits for himself, however, Mason donates his revenue to help children in need.

The most impressive part? Mason is just 12 years old.

Building a Business

Fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit, community support, and two cups of coffee per day, Mason has transformed his makeshift popcorn stand into Mason’s Market NC. The success of his company has allowed Mason to give back to the community in extraordinary ways.

“Last year,” Mason explained, “we donated $1,500 to our 2017 organization of the year, Jesse Mae Monroe Elementary. We helped them get tablets, air hockey tables, fishing poles, and many more fun things for kids.”

Although Mason’s mother, Melissa, has accompanied him on this journey, she continues to marvel at how much her son has accomplished in a few short years.

“He would sit outside the gift shop and make around 20 bucks. That’s how he used to sell popcorn,” Melissa reflected. “This was supposed to be cute and never go anywhere, and now we all work for Mason!”

Helping Away From Home

Mason and his family have traveled from Myrtle Beach to Chicago to sell Mason’s homemade flavored popcorn. However, any money that Mason makes outside of North Carolina does not come home with him. Mason chooses and donates to an organization in each community where he sells popcorn, so the money can be used to benefit the children in that area.

“We’ve tried to teach him that their kids need, just like our kids, need,” said his mother. “We couldn’t make money in Ohio and bring it back to North Carolina, because we need to help their kids, too.”

Mason’s success is aided by his creativity. He has created unique popcorn flavors, his favorite of which is named Fat Reindeer, consisting of 1/2 caramel corn, 1/2 caramel corn covered completely in white chocolate, tossed with oversized caramel chips and chocolate caramel candy kisses. Even though his products have already grown from 8 flavors to 45, Mason continues to look forward and set goals, including “more popcorn and bigger events across the country.”

“We’ve traveled and sold popcorn in multiple parts of the country, and will continue to do so next year,” Mason said.

The Secret to Success

Outside of Mason’s Market NC, Mason enjoys playing Monopoly, camping, photography, and hanging out with friends—some of whom may not even know about Mason’s popcorn business.

“Mason’s biggest secret in life is that he has a popcorn shop,” his mother revealed. “He doesn’t tell anyone… ever. If you didn’t ask, he wouldn’t say. The entire business has run on going to events and is spreading by word of mouth.”

The determination Mason has shown to build Mason’s Market NC from the ground up is evident in his advice for others looking to start a business or pursue a new venture.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Mason advised. “You have to run after it, and don’t stop running.”

Visit Mason’s Market NC’s Facebook page, or check out their account that helps raise money for supplies. Furthermore, their 2018 charity of the year, the North Carolina Boys & Girls Home, has a donation page that can be found here.

If you’re interested in starting a popcorn or concessions business like Mason, Gold Medal is here to help. Find resources in our past blog posts or follow us on Facebook for more news and updates. If you have further questions, call 1-800-543-0862 and our concession specialists can help you find the right solutions to meet your needs.