Editor’s note: This is one in a series of profiles in the Humans of Wausau series, which is funded in part through a grant from the B. A. & Esther Greenheck Foundation. Follow the Humans of Wausau Facebook page here.
By Kelli Oligney for Wausau Pilot and Review
Chip Winter, 75
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Wausau. I moved to a couple places, yes. I moved to Lacrosse and Green Bay for a little while.
What made you come back here?
Home. Wausau is a great community.
What do you do for a living and how did you decide this profession?
It came about because I was laid off a job and I decided to buy this popcorn wagon so I could work for myself.
How long have you been doing the popcorn wagon?
24 years – next year will be 25 years. I open from April 1 to October 1 every year.
What’s your favorite kind of popcorn?
Chip’s popcorn! I buy my popcorn from the Amish in Indiana because it has a higher moisture count to it and makes it more tender. It’s a soft popcorn.
What is one of your most memorable moments of the popcorn wagon?
When I got a $100 tip.
What are hobbies you enjoy in your spare time?
I like to golf, fish; I’m a sports person. I like college athletics.
Do you have a favorite team?
What changes would you like to see in the community in the next five years?
Trying to get more retail business downtown to make our downtown stronger; that would help everybody. People need a reason to come downtown and we need to think about how we can give them those different reasons. I have a lot of people that come through Wausau and they comment on what a nice downtown we have, but there’s not a lot down here. I think it’s good that the furniture store went in the mall. Overall, make our downtown stronger.
What was your hardest age growing up?
The age was around 20. That was my most difficult time of making choices in my life.
What’s your favorite quote?
“What will be, will be.”
What does that mean to you?
It has a humbling effect. It goes along with a bible verse that says, “All things work together for good to those who love God.”
What’s a hidden talent of yours?
The gift of gab. It helps in the popcorn business!
Is there a moment you can think of that changed your life?
When I asked Jesus Christ into my life to be my Lord and Savior when I was about 20 years old.
What’s your favorite memory of living in Wausau?
When I met my beautiful wife.
How long ago did you meet your wife? How long have you been married?
About 54 years ago. We’ve been married for 53 years. It was about a year after we met. We have four children; two in Madison and two in Wausau.
If you had advice to give anyone, what would it be?
There’s several things I could say, but if I had only one opportunity; I would tell my children, “Learn to trust the Lord with the little things in your life. When the big things come along, it doesn’t mean that it will be easier, but it will be easier to understand.”
What has been one of the hardest moments of owning the wagon?
I can’t think of any, but probably dealing with the weather because I’m not always open if the weather is bad. Honestly, I can’t really say any negatives about owning the popcorn wagon. It is a wonderful business.
What advice would you give to those that wish to pursue similar dreams?
Don’t focus on the negative.
What is something you learned about yourself since owning the wagon?
My opinions aren’t always right. You deal with the public and everyone has a different face.