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Gift from sister-in-law sparks popcorn business

Staff Intern: Graham Robson  Travis Gatson, along with his wife Patsy are the owners of Popcorn Palladium in Suwanee which sells a variety of flavored popcorn. The store is located off of Buford Highway and is family owned and operated.

Staff Intern: Graham Robson Travis Gatson, along with his wife Patsy are the owners of Popcorn Palladium in Suwanee which sells a variety of flavored popcorn. The store is located off of Buford Highway and is family owned and operated.

-- Open since: 2010

-- Owner: Travis and Patsy Gatson

-- Website: popcornpalladium.com

-- Phone: 678-765-0993SUWANEE -- When Travis Gatson looks back on a visit from his Chicago sister-in-law about six years ago, he sees it as a jumping off point for his small business: Popcorn Palladium.

To thank the hosts, the sister-in-law sent a tin of popcorn as a gift. Soon after his wife thoroughly enjoyed the treat, Gatson thought to himself that he could have a business that sells popcorn.

So in October, 2010 Gatson opened the store, which features a 92-inch television that shows a continuous loop of movies, 40 flavors of popcorn, an air hockey game and slushies. The 3,700-square-foot space on Buford Highway near Town Center is a place Gatson said he hopes can be a relaxing area for customers, and "we can do more than just sell popcorn." He also keeps ready-made, warm flavors of cheese, caramel and butter.

The business regularly has new flavors like cajun and fruit salad, and popcorn in school colors.

"It's a learning process," Gatson said. "They say it takes three years (to build a business). I thought it would take 90 days."

Gatson said the growth of the business and customer base is a priority. Weddings, corporate events and other gatherings are among his ideas to expand the business. Yet he doesn't plan to stray too far from the core business: popcorn.

"One of the things we have going for us is the taste," he said.

And he still enjoys seeing families come through the store.

"Most people who walk in a popcorn shop are not upset," said Gatson, a former Marine, who retired last year from 25 years with the Gwinnett Sheriff's Department. "I love to see kids running around. Moms say, 'Let's go' and they don't want to go. I love that."

Gatson said his experience is an inspiration that a dream can be accomplished. He never dreamed to own a popcorn store, but always wanted to own his own business.

"It didn't happen overnight," he said. "But you start out with a dream and figure out how to make it a reality."