CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Even during the toughest moments of the pandemic, the Eaton Theatre kept the popcorn popping.
But popcorn sales and the old movies they started showing on weekends in January haven't been enough to keep the 90-year-old Charlotte theater afloat.
"We were really hoping that was going to be our big year after we fixed a lot of things, made a lot of changes, and then we had to shut down," said Leann Owen, who bought the theater in 2018 after managing it for almost 18 years.
Even though things got tough, Owen kept offering popcorn to go.
"Gave everyone a little sense of normalcy during the pandemic, but it got to the point where winter was coming, we had heating cost, and movies weren't coming back anytime soon. So, we started the GoFundMe," said Owen.
So far, they've raised about $9,000, and more than 100 people have donated.
Dawn Brown is one of them. She's been going to the Eaton Theatre for 30 years.
"When you walk in the doors, it's like getting a big hug. Not just the smell of the popcorn or the sound of the sodas falling down. You can tell by the expressions on their faces that they're welcoming and they want you there. And you're really appreciated," said Brown.
Brown said she went through a rough time years ago and said she's thankful she could go to the theatre.
"I would go in all by myself and watch a movie, and I would come out feeling as if I've been hugged and it's 'OK, I can get through this,'" said Brown.
Owen says she thinks the theater will be able to hang in there, but it's going to be a little while until they're back to normal.
New movies should start rolling into the Eaton Theatre by April or May.
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