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Summer means business for DeKalb County seasonal shops

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:32 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
On Monday afternoon in downtown Sycamore, Troy Oltman and his wife, Cassie, prepare Cassie's Popcorn Stand for their opening Sunday. The stand has been owned by the family for 30 years.

When Sycamore pedestrians saw Cassie and Troy Oltman inside their popcorn stand this week, several stopped hoping to get their hands on their famous popcorn.

The Oltmans aren’t open yet for business, but the interest from residents was something Cassie Oltman was glad to see as they were cleaning and preparing Cassie’s Popcorn Stand for the upcoming season.

“They’re all excited,” she said.

The stand, at 200 W. State St. in Sycamore, is one of the area’s many businesses that operate on a seasonal basis.

Cassie’s is set to open Sunday in Sycamore while the DeKalb location in the Van Buer Plaza at North Second and East Locust streets will open May 1. Both locations will remain open until Christmas, Cassie Oltman said.

Meanwhile, Dairy Dogs, 675 E. State St. in Sycamore, opened for the season in March, which owner Margret Schrant said was probably a little too soon given the less-than-favorable weather conditions.

But now that Schrant and her husband, Helmut, are open for business they are committed to being available for their customers who visit the drive-in.

“We want to be very consistent to the customers,” Margret Schrant said. “Our hours stay true to form.”

For seasonal businesses like Cassie’s and Dairy Dogs, maximizing the short period of time they are able to operate is critical, said Rose Treml, executive director of the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce.

Dairy Dogs holds several community events and activities during the summer, which helps them generate more business, Margret Schrant said. The restaurant hosts fundraisers for local organizations such as the Opportunity House and Sycamore schools’ athletic programs.

“That’s great fun to us,” she said. “And I think that helps spread the word of mouth, so to speak.”

The small window of time during which these seasonal shops operate can easily be hindered by weather conditions. But the Dairy Dogs staff does what they can to stay busy on slower days, Margret Schrant said.

“When it’s slow, we do a lot of cleaning,” she said. “The kids know I constantly want that place clean.”

Cassie Oltman said weather isn’t really a factor at the popcorn stand. People have pulled up their cars next to the stand even when it’s pouring rain.

“It doesn’t really matter, because if they want popcorn, people are stopping,” she said.

Some businesses, such as Al’s BBQ Shack on the corner of Grove and South Fourth Streets in DeKalb, won’t be coming back this summer. Al’s website stated the shack has closed permanently.

Treml said seasonal businesses, which often are locally owned and operated, play a significant role in the community.

“They hire your neighbor and your family and your friends,” Treml said. “And they keep the economy going that way.”

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