AP NEWS

Sycamore, Oregon business owner: Hopper’s Poppers pushed out of state by wage hike

February 25, 2019

SYCAMORE – Have a taste for popcorn or ice cream after seeing a movie at the theater next door? You have until Sunday to satisfy those cravings at Hopper’s Poppers’ Sycamore location.

Ryan Hopper, owner of Hopper’s Poppers and an Oregon resident, said this is the last week the store at 422 W. State St. in Sycamore will be open. He said he is closing up shop in Sycamore and eventually in Oregon because Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently approved a statewide $15 minimum wage by 2025.

Hopper said three months ago, he and his wife Stephanie were looking at adding a third location for Hopper’s Poppers in Roscoe – which would bring him closer to his five-location goal for the business. But the minimum wage hike and Illinois’s notoriously high property taxes solidified the decision for his family to continue their business ventures outside Illinois.

“Our taxes added up and everything was just really starting to go against being able to make a living,” Hopper said.

The business announced its plan to close Saturday in a Facebook post. Hopper said he owns the building where the Oregon store is, and it will be listed for sale Friday.

Hopper said he started selling popcorn within the Sycamore Theatre, which is owned by his parents, in 2011, and will continue to do so while he closes his two stores. He said he opened the Oregon store in 2013 and the Sycamore one in 2017.

Hopper said he’s aware that he could just own the one store in Oregon, be happy and make an OK living with his wife, Stephanie, and his three children, who are all 8 or younger.

“But at the age that I’m at, I feel like I would benefit from taking my business somewhere else,” Hopper, 34, said.

Hopper said he also factored that his children aren’t very integrated into the school system yet. He said he also has been looking at moving to North Carolina, home of a lower state income tax, lower property taxes and a lower minimum wage.

“I could open up almost three stores compared to the one I could have here” in Illinois, Hopper said.

Hilda Enriquez, Cortland resident and one of the owners of Buffalo’s Grill Taco Truck, said she and husband, Josafat Heredia, will move their business into the Hopper’s Poppers location in Sycamore. She said the official opening date is yet to be determined, but if paperwork goes smoothly, Heredia said it could be as soon as March 15.

“I’m still working through the papers now,” Enriquez said.