Sometimes the smallest of shops contain the largest amount of charm. When you see what’s poppin’ over at Mahli’s Uni~Pop, at 9 E. 2nd Ave., you’ll be greeted with the sweetest smile of downtown Rome’s youngest entrepreneur.
Ten-year-old Mahli Cooper’s gourmet popcorn shop is so much more than a retail space; it’s where she brings her favorite things together to share with her community.
Mahli said that the name of the shop was inspired by two of her favorite things, unicorns and unique popcorn.
“I pick my favorite flavors and then I like to share them with the world,” she smiled; as simple as that.
From floor to ceiling, the wide variety of flavors are colorful and unique.
Lemon cheesecake, jalapeño cheddar, dill pickle, chocolate drizzle, and pumpkin pie are just a few of the eclectic options.
Mahli said her hottest sellers are jalapeño cheddar, cookies and cream, and of course caramel.
Since she likes hot sauce on almost everything, Mahli said that her favorite way to eat popcorn is plain with hot sauce on top, however, her favorite Uni~Pop flavors are pumpkin pie caramel and chocolate drizzle.
Feel free to ask for taste tests of any of the flavors but prepare to have a hard time choosing just one!
The shelves are usually stocked with about 17 flavors that satisfy any snack craving, from savory to spicy to sweet. Additionally, Mahli chooses a new unique flavor to share with her customers each month.
Whether you just want to stop in for a small personal bag or you’re looking to add a little pop to your party snacks, Uni~Pop sizes range from party favor to party focus!
Mahli manages her shop after school and on the weekends. As a fourth-grade student with the Rome City Schools Virtual Learning Academy, Mahli said that taking speech class in school has helped her feel more comfortable interacting with her customers.
“Mahli is a bit introverted,” Nika Cooper, Mahli’s mother explained, “so this is completely out of her comfort zone, but she is doing so great! She comes up with different decorations, different flavors we can try and different things we can offer.”
In the future, Mahli said, the shop will be poppin’ in a whole new way as she plans to begin popping and preparing her own unique popcorn flavors.
Her working dream list of Uni~Pop products includes green popcorn, popcorn cakes, gourmet hotdogs and cotton candy.
In addition to the shop, Mahli sells online at unipop.shop and can always be found at pop-ups throughout the Rome community, as well as in Cedartown, Rockmart and Cartersville.
Mahli’s Uni~Pop debuted at the Spring in the Valley Festival at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds in May of 2021. Nika and Mahli plan to be vendors at the festival again this May.
Help Mahli celebrate one year and treat yourself to some of her unique gourmet popcorn!
Shop Uni~Pop at unipop.shop and follow Mahli’s entrepreneurial adventure on Facebook at Mahli’s Uni*Pop Gourmet Popcorn.