Husband and wife business partners Robert and Louise Cox open Going Nuts in downtown Cartersville

BARTOW BIO: A mom and pop(corn) shop comes to Cartersville

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A lot of times, when you ask a businessperson what inspired them to open up their shop, you’ll get a verbose, grandiloquent — and occasionally, overwrought — response.

That’s certainly not the case with Robert Cox, co-owner of the recently opened Going Nuts at 21 North Wall Street in Cartersville. Indeed, he gave a very simple answer as to what inspired him to open up his gourmet popcorn and roasted nuts specialty shop right next door to Ate Track — he was bored.

“We’re retired, we sold the house, moved into an apartment up here in December and just got bored sitting around the apartment — real bored, there was nothing to do,” he said. “We took the money we had from the sale of the house, and come down here and opened this establishment.” 

He and his business partner/spouse Louise Cox relocated from Powder Springs, where they lived for 25 years, to Bartow County late last year. Over the years, the two have operated close to a dozen different businesses, including about three or four restaurants.

“We owned a bar, we owned a large, commercial window-cleaning business, we owned a pretty large air pollution equipment business,” he said. “I’ve pretty much been self-employed most of my life.”

The business officially opened in July. Cox — who, by the way, isn’t related to that Bobby Cox — said he and his spouse had been eying an open spot in downtown Cartersville, almost on a daily basis, for months. 

“Finally, we found this place here vacant and we jumped on it as soon as we found it,” he said. “There’s a lot of foot traffic down here … and that’s what you need for this type of business, foot traffic”

The operation, he added, is a rather simple one — albeit, one with plenty of expansion potential. 

“We’re a retail store selling Brazilian nuts, cinnamon-roasted, along with 12 different flavors of gourmet popcorn in five different sizes,” he said. “We’re looking at adding hand-dipped ice cream on in the next 30 days to make it kind of a full-circle store.”

Name: Robert Cox, Louise Cox

Age: 77, 78

Current City of Residence: Cartersville

Hometown: Atlanta

Occupation: Co-owners, Going Nuts at 21 North Wall St. in Cartersville

DAILY TRIBUNE NEWS: What would you say was the most difficult and the most rewarding thing about opening the shop?

ROBERT COX: The most difficult thing? Oh gosh. Getting set up with all of the laws, the rules, the regulations that you have to go through. Although I will admit, Cartersville was the easiest people I’ve ever dealt with as far as City people to license and so forth. Marietta will drive you crazy down there. But once you get opened up and you get all your vendors in place, who you buy from and those types of things, then it starts to kind of reward a little bit, when you see customers come in. We have customers coming in now, although we’ve only been open three weeks, repeat customers already coming in, two or three times. 

DTN: So what exactly makes something “gourmet popcorn?”

RC: It’s coated, for one thing. The white is a real, real fine popcorn. The caramel popcorn is a larger grain coated with caramel. We carry a jalapeño brand of popcorn, it’s a large kernel. And then we have caramel apple, and we have one down here called toffee nut. It’s a large kernel, it has nuts mixed in with it and it’s caramel-coated. And then we have a cinnamon flavor that’s kind of like mouthwash. Then we have a rainbow flavored one up here for children, although some adults do buy it … so they’re all specialty items. 

DTN: Is there any particular demographic you’re targeting for customers?

RC: Not really, it’s all ages that come in here. Older people, a lot of young people, 35-and-under, coming in buying popcorn. Some of them come in here and buy those big, family-sized bags. One guy the other day came in and bought $40 worth of popcorn — you just never know.

DTN: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who’s told me they don’t like popcorn. It’s sort of a philosophical question, but do you think there’s any particular reason why it’s such a popular snack?

RC: That’s one of the reasons why I went with popcorn, because most everybody likes popcorn. And not everybody loves nuts, but most people do — although a lot of people are allergic to them. I don’t know why [popcorn] became so popular. Your gourmet popcorn is not cheap, it’s a much, much better popcorn, but you can buy the Walmart brand of popcorn and pop it yourself at home. I guess that’s one thing that’s made it popular, you can do it at home, too.

DTN: What’s your most popular seller so far?

RC: Probably the caramel, I imagine

LOUISE COX: Actually, toffee nut sells good and jalapeño, those three.

DTN: And what’s your own personal favorite product here?

RC: My favorite product would be the toffee nut. Of course, I love the roasted pecans, too. I could eat five pounds of them real easy.

LC: I like the pecans and I also like the toffee nut.

DTN: Can you tell us about the roasted nuts side of the business?

RC: These roasted nuts are hard to find. They are sold at some of the larger stores like Cabela’s. All of the Bass Pro Shops sell the same nuts that we sell, so if we get some of their customers to come into our shop, we’ll be alright. 

DTN: What’s your marketing strategy for getting the word out about the business?

RC: Basically, what we’re doing is we put a little display upfront, we’ve got a sidewalk sign out, I had the windows lettered so when people come by they can see what’s going on out there … possibly even doing a little, small radio station advertisement. The main point is getting people in here. Once they come in, they’re going to come back. I know that for a fact.

DTN: Can you tell us about some of the items you plan on adding in the future?

RC: What I envisioned before we opened up was kind of a store with a wall going across here with a little bit of everything on it — exotic cheeses, pre-wrapped sausages, kind of like the shops in Dahlonega. Something similar to that right there. And eventually, we may get there. That way, everybody who comes in could buy something, leave with something in their hand.

DTN: How would you describe your short-term and long-term plans for the business?

RC: Short term is to add ice cream on and some additional products. Long-term, I might even open up a second location. But I’d have to bring in some help, as a partner or something along those lines. We’re getting up in age and it’s time to start slowing down a little bit ... possibly down the road we may open up several of these, once we get this good and established and get everything in place as it should be. We’re still in a learning curve at this point, making mistakes and so forth. Once we get everything smoothed out, yeah, we’ll probably open up at several other places.