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Originally published Friday, October 31, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Retail Report

KuKuRuZa popcorn store opening in Seattle

KuKuRuZa to offer 25 flavors of popcorn at Seattle store.

Seattle Times business reporters

When the economy was strong, George Marema made enough money in the stock market that he was able to retire from an insurance-industry job at 35 and follow a dream he'd had for years of opening a gourmet popcorn shop.

Called KuKuRuZa after the Russian word for corn, the store in Tempe, Ariz., did well enough for five years that Marema could spend winters in the desert and summers in Seattle.

Now Marema and popcorn chef and co-owner Robert Hicks are leaving Tempe to open KuKuRuZa at 215 Pike Street, a couple blocks east of Pike Place Market.

"We waited for a visible spot," said Marema, who is thrilled that it is in a building from the 1920s, which fits the KuKuRuZa's look and feel, from swing and jazz music to martini glasses displaying popcorn.

Beginning Nov. 7, KuKuRuZa will make popcorn all day, with about 25 flavors available at a time. Customers will pay $2.50 for a quart-sized bag of a classic flavor, such as caramel or Cheddar, and $13.69 for a gallon bag of "After Five" flavors, which include burgundy cheddar cheese and Irish cream coffee with white chocolate.

One wall will hold holiday and other tins that can be filled with four flavors of popcorn each.

KuKuRuZa's most popular flavor is caramel corn, followed by a caramel and Cheddar mix, Cheddar alone and Rocky Road.

What's Rocky Road popcorn? That's caramel corn with cashews, almonds, pecans, marshmallows, chocolate and white chocolate, of course.

Hicks develops custom flavors, too. His black-raspberry liqueur with white chocolate came from the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix needing purple popcorn for a fundraiser.

It's costing about $250,000 to open the Seattle store. Marema and Hicks expect sales eventually will top $750,000, but they are wary of the stagnant economy.

"I'm worried to death," said Marema, who takes heart from the fact that popcorn sales soared during the Great Depression.

"Even if we're in a recession, it's a comfort food and people can afford to buy it," he said.


— Melissa Allison


London-based Sassoon will open its first Northwest salon in early 2009, in downtown Seattle at 1405 Fifth Ave. Sassoon, which recently dropped "Vidal" from its name, has 13 North American locations. — AM

Goodwill has set Wednesday as the opening date for its new store in Seattle's University District. The store, at 4552 University Way N.E., is 5,400 square feet, smaller than Goodwill's other stores, which tend to be more than 20,000 square feet. It is Goodwill's 17th store in the north Puget Sound region. — AM

PCC Farmland Trust, a nonprofit started by PCC Natural Markets in 1999, celebrated its new program, the Farmland Sustaining Circle, at Ames Creek Farm in Carnation last month. Members of the circle pledge at least $1,000 a year to support farmland and farmer research, stewardship and trust operations. — MA

Kendall Ross, a retail branding and design firm in Seattle, worked with former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe on his new wine brand, Doubleback. The first vintage, a red wine using grapes from the Walla Walla Valley, will be released in 2010. Kendall Ross worked on the wine's name, bottle and label design, Web site and brand strategy. — MA

Glassybaby, a Seattle vendor of colored glass cups, has opened a temporary store at Bellevue Square, on the second level near the southeast entrance to Nordstrom. The store, which is open through December, will donate 10 percent of all sales to the cancer center at Overlake Hospital Medical Center. — AM

Village Roadshow, an Australia-based entertainment company, opens a seven-screen movie theater today at Redmond Town Center. It's the second theater that Village Roadshow will have opened under the Gold Class Cinemas name. The first was Oct. 3 in Chicago. Amenities include fresh food and fine wine. — AM

Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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Retail Report is a look at the trends, issues and people who makeup the dynamic and versatile retail sector throughout the Puget Sound region. Every Friday with Melissa Allison and Amy Martinez. Send tips or comments to or

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