Fudge ladies of Lopez Island keep smiling

MarJoe Davidson and Natalie Wilson

Pumpkin pecan, blackberry, pistachio, caramel apple pie and red velvet are fall favors. During Christmastime, its candy cane, eggnog and cranberry orange fudge that you find under the counter of the Just Heavenly Fudge Factory.

“I like to try unique and different recipes,” said Natalie Wilson, who is the main fudge maker and co-owner of the shop.

But she said her life partner and co-owner MarJoe Davidson is quite capable of mixing up a batch of excellent fudge too.

The women have been life partners for 23 years and will celebrate five years of being in business with the fudge factory this November.

They were drawn to Lopez, after MarJoe commuted to the island from the mainland to work as a caregiver. Soon Natalie came to fall in love with the island and realized there were no candy shops.

“We simultaneously had the same idea about making fudge,” said Natalie. “I said next year and she [MarJoe] said this year.”

That was that. They took out a loan, purchased a $4,000 kettle and got to work selling their tasty treats at the Farmers’ Market and local crafts events like the Children’s Bazaar.

The shop offers a variety of 20 flavors of fresh-made fudge, ice cream from the Lopez Island Creamery and locally made gift items like fine soaps, pottery, clothing and honey.

And when the summer season is over the ladies sell their wares at markets across western Washington.

“When people aren’t here we go where the people are to be able to keep a business year around,” said Natalie. “We have seen many businesses come and go, but we plan to be here for a while.”

The ladies also like the business because it allows them to be involved in the Lopez community. They are sponsors of the middle school girls’ softball league. MarJoe volunteers as a coach at the practices and games.

At the first practice one girl on the sidelines said she didn’t want to play.

MarJoe told her that if her team won, the prize was ice cream and fudge at the shop and suddenly the girl grabbed her glove and hit the field.

“It’s nice to give the girls extra encouragement,” said Natalie.

The shop also employs high school students, especially during the busy summer months. They describe their staff as delightful and enthusiastic.

And because Lopez is the Friendly Isle, the women make sure that customer service is always a number one priority.

“We never turn anyone away. Even if we are closed but working we’ll open up the shop,” Natalie said. “That’s just us and that is Lopez.”

Fall hours for the fudge factory and gift shop are Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday, Saturday 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. You can also make purchases online at www.justheavenlyfudge.com.