If the gorgeous homewares, quality preserves and home-style fudge aren’t enough to draw you into Poppa’s Fudge and Jam Factory, the smell of freshly roasted nuts will lure you, let me assure you!
Kevin (Poppa) and Vicki Powderly opened their shop in Young, NSW, 12 years ago and I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say that it is one of Australia’s most successful country stores.
They get up to 200 coach loads of visitors a year – little wonder, as there are so many beautiful things to drool over in this store.
Vicki (pictured below) has a great eye for selecting pretty and unusual things, not to mention lots of talent in displaying them. She told me they were inspired by a homewares store they had seen in Victoria, adding fudge to the business eight years ago after bringing the concept from America.
“I’d always styled my business on the American theme with all the boxes and bows (so the fudge was a natural progression),” she said. “In the first 10 days of trading, we sold one and a half tonnes of fudge.”
Today they make 50 varieties of fudge and weekly sales are around 50 to 60 kilos. On the Cherry Festival weekend, fudge sales soar to 150 kilos.
JD’s Jam Factory had been a major drawcard for the town and when that closed four years ago, they added jams and other preserves to their line-up. They now do a staggering 90 lines of jams, sauces and chutneys, producing around 2000 jars a week.
Poppa does all the cooking, using old family recipes. It’s a time-consuming process – it takes an hour to cook down a huge saucepan of fruit, and then another hour after the sugar is added. And of course it requires a watchful eye and constant stirring.
At busy times, Kevin does call in some help. When I was there during the 2012 festival, young Will Kant was in the kitchen, helping him make fresh batches of cherry jam each day, just to keep up with the incredible demand. About two weeks before the 2012 festival, they began roasting their own nuts.
In between opening the shop seven days a week, this remarkable couple has produced five children. And they have 45 acres of land just outside Young where they grow all their own fruit and vegetables.
Much of their produce is snap-frozen so they have ample supply all year for making their preserves. “We grow everything (used in the preserves) except banana and mango,” Vicki said. There are no preservatives or additives in any of the food.
Although they’ve created a hugely successful formula for their business, they don’t have plans to open other stores. “We want to keep it personal and we want to keep it in Young,” Vicki said. “The town’s been good for us.”
Check out some great cherry recipes at A Table Full Of Cherries.