By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — With plenty of help from his two young brothers, a 14-year-old local entrepreneur is bringing back an iconic Wausau popcorn stand that has stood vacant for more than 20 years.
Mac, Nic and Joey Ruffi have spent the past several weeks cleaning, painting, patching and refurbishing Pop’s Corn Crib, 627 Third Avenue. Now, the bright red building is ready for business and will open to the public on Saturday.
Mac, 14, will serve popcorn, soda and frozen candy bars from the stand, which will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
The boys’ mother, Sarah Ruffi, said getting the building ready for Mac’s business has been a family affair.
“Everyone has been helping,” Sarah Ruffi said.
An electrician rewired the building and plumbing had to be redone, along with some patching on the roof. Other than that, however, the building was in great shape.
“It truly was like opening a time capsule,” Sarah Ruffi said. “Everything was still inside as if the last owner planned to come back.”
Mac, 14; Nic, 13; and Joey, 10 are no stranger to entrepreneurship. Last year, the brothers made headlines when they launched Big Nic’s Ice Cream, a bicycle-powered business in which they sold frozen treats. With the help of their parents, Sarah and Dwight Ruffi, the boys helped change rules in Wausau that once limited their ability to run a business. In response to their efforts, Wausau established a new youth vendor permit that allows entrepreneurs younger than 18 to run their own business.
Nic will continue concentrating on the ice cream business this year, following a route roughly from Jackson Street to Wausau Avenue, while Mac will concentrate on the popcorn business. Joey will likely split his time between the two.