Tilman Fertitta visits Pop Brothers for reality show ‘Billion Dollar Buyer’
The owners of Pop Brothers in Gulfport got their big chance Tuesday, selling $65,000 worth of their gourmet ice pops to Tilman Fertitta, the “Billion Dollar Buyer.”
They didn’t know until the show aired Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CNBC whether they would get the deal, said Shannon Arzola, who co-owns Pop Brothers with her husband, Octavio Arzola, and her brother Chuck Kelly. They invited the community to a watch party at Murky Waters restaurant in downtown Gulfport.
Fertitta does $4 million in frozen treat sales a year at his Landry’s properties. He tested the ice pops at Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi and at Pleasure Pier in Texas.
“Let’s see what customers think of your product and what they’ll pay for it,” he said.
Price was the big issue. Although 81 percent of those who bought the ice pops at the Golden Nugget gave them a five-star rating, 25 percent said the $5 price was too high.
Pop Brothers negotiated a price Fertitta could accept by doing the distribution themselves. This one order grew their annual business by 25 percent.
The other business featured in the episode, Damn Dog, a New Orleans company that makes men’s bags, did not get an order.
Fertitta arrived at Pop Brothers on 15th Street in Gulfport to film the episode in July and was greeted by area cheerleaders, Mayor Billy Hewes and a crowd.
“It was great to be in Gulfport,” said Fertitta, who owns Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi and as chairman and sole owner of Landry’s, spends billions buying for his casinos and 500 restaurants, hotels and other businesses.
He just finished filming Season 2 and said the episode featuring Pop Brothers “was definitely one my favorites for the season.”
Pop Brothers made an impression on Fertitta, who recently tweeted a video and said, “Entrepreneurs will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.” This came after the Pop Brothers owners drove 10 hours through flooded roads in Louisiana to deliver an extra supply of gourmet ice pops to Landry’s Texas propterty for a 30-day trial run.
Viewers of the show sometimes question why the entrepreneurs don’t take the advice of the “Billion Dollar Buyer,” Fertitta said every one of them has thanked him for his insights — “100 percent.”
Shannon Arzola said they made several big steps, thanks to Fertitta’s advice.
“It caused us to see we needed to go ahead and get a manufacturer’s license,” she said. “We trademarked our name.” The partners opened two more locations — in Ocean Springs and a walk-up at Cuz’s Seafood in downtown Bay St. Louis.
“The show forced us to think outside our comfort zone faster than we would have normally,” she said. “We also have a great opportunity at the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport.”
Before “Billion Dollar Buyer,” they worked seven days a week. Now it’s seven days and seven nights, but Arzola added, “Not complaining.”