Joel Rogozinski and Holly Bagwell have amassed a fast following for their Popculture Craft Pops in Purcellville, Virginia, and the engaged couple is looking to use that momentum to bring their frozen creations closer to D.C.
The novice business owners plan to open their first D.C. area store by Thursday, November 1, inside Montgomery Mall’s food court. Another offshoot is planned to land in the heart of Georgetown next spring, Rogozinski tells Eater.
The couple has moonlighted as construction workers in order to get a 2,000-square-foot store up and running in the Bethesda, Maryland, mall. Rogozinski says they haven’t hired a single contractor for the buildout.
“It means 20 hour days and lots of YouTube videos,” he says of their cost-saving DIY approach.
The idea to start Popculture started after they spotted popsicle operations working well in their respective homes; she’s from Alabama, and he’s from Mexico, where paletas are popular.
A new Georgetown location is expected to sit in an alley along Grace Street NW. The menu includes year-round dairy pops and seasonal fruit-based concoctions made from local ingredients. For example, there’s a strawberry balsamic flavor for the summer and a caramel apple spice for the fall. The price will stay $3.95 per popsicle at all locations. “We wanted to make it an affordable thing all families can do,” he says.
The couple started with a mobile trailer that supplied birthday parties and events in Purcellville this spring, then quickly grew into a brick-and-mortar location in the Loudoun County town by late summer. Proving successful in the outskirts of D.C. gives them hope the business can make it in the city. “Our fear going into D.C. was there are so many options. We didn’t want to show up as a mom-and-pop startup straight into D.C.,” he says.
Popculture recently partnered with veteran-owned Cascade Beverage Company out of Lorton, Virginia, to supply artisanal teas and botanically-infused beverages. This winter, the plan is to add a toppings bar with a dipping station designed for dunking popsicles into chocolate or butterscotch drizzle.
The goal is to open two more locations across the D.C. area next year, eyeing Leesburg, Virginia, and Frederick, Maryland, as potential markets. One D.C. competitor will be Pleasant Pops, which already has a storefront in Adams Morgan and a presence at farmers markets.