Building a Brand and a Loyal Customer Following with Fudge

How Fudge Became An Ice Cream And Candy Store’s #1 Selling Item

The Need

Karen, a conscientious and devoted shop owner, had a lifelong dream of opening an ice cream and old-fashioned candy store.

She owned and operated Cranberry Lane, a successful home décor and gift store in downtown Bristol, VA that was established in 2000. When retail space became available next to her Cranberry Lane shop, it was a sign that the time was right to fulfill her dream. In 2014, The Southern Churn, a 3,000 square foot ice cream and old-fashioned candy store, was established.

Home Décor Takes a Sweet Turn

Karen wanted her shop to stand out and be different from other ice cream and candy stores. She was looking to add a quality, signature item to her selection prior to the store’s grand opening. Her plan was to open in time for the big Bristol, TN NASCAR event in her area, which draws 250,000 attendees, and she needed to find the answer.

“I Couldn’t Have Achieved This Success With Any Other Vendor. Calico Cottage Is More Than A Supplier, But A Partner Focused On My Store’s Success.”

Karen Hester, Owner

The Solution

Karen thought about adding fudge as a complement to the ice cream she was planning to offer at her store. After some online research, speaking with entrepreneurs who had previously sold fudge in their stores and traveling to a variety of different locations to taste fudge, she determined that Calico Cottage had the best product and overall offering, and would become her vendor. Karen pursued Calico Cottage because she knew she could make the highest quality fresh fudge at her store and sell it under her brand, The Southern Churn.

A Helping Hand Matters

After reaching out to Calico, she quickly secured a personal visit from the local sales consultant. He helped her identify the prime location for her display and select the best display fixtures to enhance the appetite appeal and serve customers efficiently.

From Crawl to Run

Her local Calico representative came back to train the staff on how to make the most delicious fudge, and how to merchandise and sell the product to optimize revenue and profitability.

Her team was completely prepared! She was up and running with The Southern Churn’s branded fudge made fresh at her store.

Calico Provided

  • A personal visit from the local sales consultant to help identify the prime location for her display.
  • Consultation on the best display fixtures to install to enhance appetite appeal and serve customers efficiently.
  • Training for the staff on how to make and decorate the most delicious fudge.
  • Instructions on how to merchandise and sell the product to optimize revenue and profitability.

The Results:




Karen deemed her experience amazing. “When you follow the program the way Calico has it laid out, it helps make your business more successful… I rely on Calico as a trusted partner, “ stated Karen. The level of support and training she received from Calico allowed her to integrate the product into her store’s footprint in record speed and in time for her grand opening. She now had a high-quality, signature item that separated her store from all others.

Much To Karen’s Delight, The Financial Reward Is Astounding.

  • Fudge is the most profitable item in the store and her #1 best seller – selling 40-50% more than ice cream.
  • The margin on fudge is 65%, exceeding ice cream by 15 points. Karen shares, “Fudge requires a much smaller footprint with a much higher profit margin than ice cream.” The store is making three times more profit per square-foot with Calico fudge.

The Southern Churn’s fudge is a critical part of her store’s identity. Customers love to try samples of her new flavors and will often drive miles across state lines to stock up on her fudge, which they can only get in her store. As an added bonus, while Karen feels pressure in her gift business from online shopping, her fudge business hasn’t been impacted because the product is uniquely hers, which keeps the foot traffic coming back into her store. Karen is thrilled with her decision to go with Calico Cottage’s Fudge Retailing Program and has opened another store, Hester’s Country Store and Fudgery, where fudge is front and center.

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