THE SMALLEST building on Shelbyville’s historic square anchors the childhood memories of countless residents. Big enough for only one person, its tiny footprint connects our hearts to the past and now brings the hope of creating new memories for area families thanks to Warren and Dena Landers. Shelbyville’s popcorn stand is back!
When the stand was removed from the square for sidewalk renovations, people flooded Facebook with comments of favorite memories and pleas to save the treasure and return it to operation. Words like icon, landmark, institution, and good old days linked with childhood, popcorn, candy, and people-watching as locals and those with local ties recalled Saturdays on the square with their parents and grandparents. Photos of the stand in disrepair caused commenters to vocalize their fears that the memory-filled booth was decaying and never to return.
Even then, Landers and others were hard at work restoring the stand to its former glory, but saving a memory is not quick, easy, or inexpensive. It’s a challenge Landers was willing to take because the payout was priceless.
After waiting for the completion of the sidewalk renovation, which moved faster than expected, the weather created further delays. The overall condition of the stand was not usable.
“It’s the original popcorn stand; we just had to take the skin off of it. And it’s got all new treated lumber inside, and we put the original skin back on it. The actual popcorn machine is the machine that was in it, but it’s got new wiring. LED lights modernized it, and the air conditioner, especially around July and August, will be really nice,” said Landers.
For the completion of the project, Landers credits Carter Clay, who oversaw the rebuilding and was assisted by Brent Pewitt, who took care of the wiring, and Brent Hitt, who handled the popcorn motor repairs
“When you’re trying to do stuff like this outdoors, and it’s 25 degrees and a lot of rainy days, it just goes on and on. It seemed like we couldn’t get a break, and our timing was very poor. When they got sidewalks done, we didn’t have the popcorn stand ready because the weather had been bad,” said Landers.
The longer it took to get the stand back to its original home, the more restless the community became.
“I would meet people on the square or at a restaurant, and they’d say, ‘Where’s the popcorn stand?’ I’m in the well-drilling business, and I wouldn’t have anybody ask me anything about my business; they wanted to know about popcorn,” said Landers. “I guess that was when it dawned on me how much this really meant to the community. People would tell you a story about how their mom would go shopping on Saturdays, and they’d have to go by and get popcorn. And I heard the same story over and over from men and women. It’s just amazing how many people this thing has touched.”
Our beloved popcorn stand will be open for Fourth Friday on the square, parades, and other special events. Most recently, proceeds from popcorn sales benefited the Bedford County Imagination Library.
What a great way to honor our past and future! Let’s get busy making new memories. GN