CU popcorn shop co-owner reflects on 13 years of business

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Photo Courtesy of CBPB

Owner of Cool Bliss Popped Bliss, Isis Griffin, poses with popcorn they sells. This is the first popcorn business in the community and provide a wide range of flavors.

By Kylie Corral, Staff Writer

Alven Allison and his wife and Ajza Allison’s popcorn business started in a small trailer in Champaign-Urbana where they were selling shaved ice.

But eventually, they switched to selling kettle corn when the cold winter months arrived, since no one was buying shaved ice in the middle of winter in Illinois.

That business is now known as Cool Bliss Popped Bliss, or CBPB, the first popcorn shop in C-U.

Isis Griffin, a business parter of Alven Allison, has been involved with the business for nine of its 13 years and said switching to selling popcorn was a choice that transformed the business and the lives of customers in C-U.

“To this day, we still have our shaved ice,” Griffin said. “We still have our kettle corn, and we have about 18 different flavors of popcorn that we do.” 

She said they also offer homemade fudge, caramel apples, chocolate-covered treats and more.

She also said they still have their food trucks at their Kirby and Neil location, which has allowed them to expand their business.

“The business just continues to grow, and we’re just feeling really grateful,” Griffin said. 

Griffin has been part of CBPB for nine of its 13 years, and as someone who has grown up within the C-U community, she said creating the business was a way to offer families something they could enjoy and that could make them feel good.

She said that’s one of the rewarding parts of CBPB.

“Just being able to know I’m a part of people feeling good when they come here and connecting with the customers and just talking to people in town,” Griffin said.

She said CBPB has even become a staple for visitors.

“I love the fact that whenever someone travels to Champaign or Urbana, we’re on their list of places they had to come and visit,” Griffin said.

She said people always enjoy their visit to CBPB and being in such a great environment.

“It’s a very friendly, welcoming environment, and I just like to be a part of that positive light,” Griffin said. “That’s really something that’s important to me.”

CBPB has also been one of the few businesses that has had the honor of being a recipient of the Illinois Made Program, an award that declares a unique Illinois business visitors can discover, and the Visit Champaign County Tourism Impact Award. 

Griffin said it came as a shock as they solely focused on making a good product and enjoyable experience.

“It’s definitely a great honor, but you know the fact that we’re a Black business, well me and my business partner, that’s not something that happens in terms of main Illinois,” Griffin said. “When it comes to us, we’re self-funded, so this was a major accomplishment, and it’s really awesome for us.”

Being a Black-owned, local business is something that though Griffin said she is proud of, hopes can be highlighted throughout the year, not just during Black History Month. 

“I think that would be beneficial to not only Black business and entrepreneurs, but the Black community as well,  to keep the spotlight and growth throughout the entire year,” Griffin said. 

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