I’ve had several people tell me that I need to go and take a tour of Julie’s Corner Store in Lacon, Illinois. I checked it out online and it sells everything from homemade fudge, to toys, to wine! Sounds like just the unique kind of anti-chain store I love to feature here on the blog. So it’s off to the MBIP mobile!
Okay, the car is pointed to Lacon and it's off we go!
And through the miracle of the internet, you're spared the scary-ass ride over the bridge leading into this town which was being worked on and I had to drive on the opposite lane causing a minor anxiety attack. But that's all in the past and I think I see Julie's store over there. The Fudge sign marks the spot!
And there it is in all its glory, Julie's Corner Store. They've been in business on this corner since 2006 and they're celebrating their 7th anniversary this September. Stay tuned for details on that!
If it's Julie's Corner Store, why is Melissa and Doug's name on the door? This is a mystery we need to solve. Let's go in and find out.
Wow, it looks like there's a lot to look at in here.
Here's the friendly and cute owner of the store, Julie, waving from her perch behind the fudge counter in the front room. I read that Julie’s Corner Store has been dubbed as the Unofficial Visitors Bureau of Lacon, so let's take a look around and see if this claim is true.
Check out the fudge in here, this is legendary stuff here in Lacon. It's recognized by the Illinois Department of Agriculture as an official Illinois Product. Very cool!
As you can see, there's a variety of flavors to sample in here. It's a fudge-o-holic's dream come true! And yes, I just made up the word, "fudge-o-holic." You got a problem with that? I didn't think so.
Here's Jill to the left of Julie, she's the pretty fudge maker in here. They have an industrial kitchen in the basement of this building where Jill cooks up fresh batches of fudge on a daily basis.
Behind the fudge counter is a full coffee bar and as you can see there's many flavors available to wash down your fudge with. Julie's opening up a coffee shop here in Lacon later this year. It'll be just down the road and the name of the shop is going to be called the "Coffee Hub."
In addition to coffee, you can get a coffee mug in here to fill up and hit the road.
There's a jewelry display case in the front room and Julie told me all of the items are made right here in the U.S. of A.
Here's some pumpkins and fall items on display. Where did the summer go? I blinked, scratched my left ear and it appears to be almost over!
This is local artwork done by Sam Bogner. Julie has more art by him displayed and for sale in the store and I love how he has such distinctive different styles in his work. These three pieces look like they were done by three different artists.
Ashley works here at Julie's and here she is dutifully flashing the MBIP card. What a great smile!
Toys and wine are this way, so let's go!
And there's the mysterious names of Melissa and Doug that we saw on the door on the way in. It turns out they're toy makers and Julie stocks a lot of their products in her store. Melissa and Doug have been making toys for over 25 years and you can read their unique story here.
And they make art supplies too!
Here's Julie holding a sample of Melissa and Doug's work. She told me that the toys in here are all old school type toys that don't come with a computer screen. These are workable fun wooden toys that a kid can stretch his imagination with by using them.
There's lots of items on the shelves back here to unleash the inner wino in you.
All of the wines that Julie stocks in the store are made right here in Illinois.
Here's a map of the Illinois Scenic Byways where the wines are made, if you want to take a wine tasting tour.
There's a wine bar here in the back if you want to sample some of the wine inside of the store or...
You can walk out the back door if it's nice outside and...
Enjoy a glass of wine and some fudge outside here at the Chocolate Cork Wine Patio and watch Lacon and the world go by as you relax at a table here.
Here's a shot from the back of the store. Julie told me that the wooden floor is the original flooring from the building that's been here on the corner since 1860.
And the tin ceiling hanging overhead is also a fixture from the original building. Very cool!
I purchased something to hang up in the MBIP Headquarters! Thanks to Julie for the fun tour and we'll see you all tomorrow.