Wine, toys, fudge and art sound like the perfect recipe for fun, it’s also the key ingredients at Julie’s Corner Store in Lacon, Illinois. This is one of the most unique gift shops I’ve ever been in. I can also say that as a former boyfriend to some women that were “slow-shoppers,” this place has a wine bar in the back where your sweetie can shop to her heart’s delight while you get rosy-cheeked and happy in the back! Everybody wins at Julie’s Corner Store. I recently stopped by to ask Julie, the owner, some questions about this wonderful gift shop located smack dab in the heart of Lacon, which is just a quick, thirty minute drive from Peoria. Let’s go!
MBIP: When did Julie's Corner Store open up?
Julie: We opened in August of 2006 during Marshall County Old Settlers Fest.
In addition to yourself, how many people work at your shop?
Currently there are 6 fudge elves.
Do you remember your first customer?
I do! About 5 minutes after I put our open flag a girl walked in and used a credit card. I kind of freaked out because I hadn't actually tested the credit machine yet. But it all worked out okay and the transaction went smoothly.
Where are you originally from and what was your life like pre-Julie's Corner
I was born in Chicago on the northwest side ( go Cubs!) and lived there until I was 19. Then I did a little bit of moving from suburb to suburb and wound up in Lacon eight years ago. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and the quest for personal growth, those qualities have allowed me to explore many career options from managing a weight loss center, to working at a police dept.
So what made you want to open up this shop in Lacon?
Actually the space was going to be a warehouse to house merchandise from an online business I ran. But the history of the building (built while Abraham Lincoln was President) and history of the town made me realize that the building could be so much more.
Do you have any crazy customer stories, you don't have to name names!
I have a ton of them...but if you want to hear any of them you will have to come in and ask!
What's your favorite flavor of fudge in the store?
Plain chocolate. ( I know...boring! But it's a classic that I eat every single day!)
How do you work in a store filled with homemade fudge and not weigh 379
Moderation and more moderation bedsides the Illinois Wines and the toys keep me very distracted.
What would surprise people most about Julie's Corner Store?
That we really do have elves, I just don't let them out in public.
You have a wine bar in the back, have you ever had to throw someone out for unruly behavior?
Well you have spit in the spittoon a few times and you are the only one to do that. Do you think I should have thrown you out?
Well, it wouldn’t be the first bar I have gotten thrown out of! Who's the bartender on duty most of the time?
Any elf who is working will gladly pour wine !
Does the store have a motto or catchphrase?
Oh Fudge! Oh Wine! Oh the Experience!
What's been the highlight of owning and running your own business so far?
I actually love coming in to the store to work. The fact I get to eat fudge and drink wine everyday doesn't hurt either. And meeting new peoples is always fun!
How do people outside of Lacon find out about you and what's the farthest a
customer has traveled to visit Julie's Corner Store?
They read your blog...right? Actually after eight years we have quite a following and people travel from far to visit. Many happen upon us by traveling the Illinois River Road Scenic Byway, which Lacon is a part of. Recently there was a group of young adults from Paddle Forward that came to visit via canoes from Chicago. That was fun!
The holidays are coming up fast and furious! Anything special happening at
the store in the next couple of months?
We have a full events calendar right now for the next couple of months. November 14-16 is our Holiday Preview and we are having some awesome stuff planned for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29. Our 12 days of Christmas deals start on Dec. 13 and the only way to get those is to get our store email newsletter. You can email me by clicking on this link and ask me to add you to the email list of fun happenings at the store: Julie’s Corner Store email.
What are your hours of business?
We are open seven days a week! M-W 9-6 - Thurs-Sat 9-7 and Sunday 12-4.
Any closing words for the MBIP audience?
Visit the store this holiday season, people have said it's like going on a mini vacation. Lacon is only 30 minutes from Peoria and while you are here you can visit my newest venture located across the street—The Coffee Hub! It’s the newest most awesome authentic coffee shop around!