The Sweet Shoppe Brings Smiles to the Square and Beyond
After 18 years working in a local factory, Pat Durham was looking for a lifestyle change better suited to spending time with his young family. In 2002, he and his wife began a wholesale fudge business. The Durhams were attending a New Year’s Eve party when they learned the local garden store on the square was going to close. A few days into 2003, Pat had contacted the landlord of that building and agreed to open a brick-and-mortar fudge shop in downtown Hodgenville.
“It’s done more than I ever thought it would,” said Pat. “It was a gamble but we had experience running a childcare business and we’ve just taken small steps at a time, starting slow and never borrowing money.”
In 2018, The Sweet Shoppe produced 40,000 pounds of fudge. The store was named the 2018 Best Sweet Spot by Kentucky Living and their fudge was recognized as the third best Kentucky homemade product.
“In my career before, I always had to work weekends and I hated it,” said Pat. “I’m gone every weekend now but it’s your own and your decisions.”
The Durhams have spent a lot of quality family time together over the years as their children have gotten older, averaging 25 festivals a year. The Sweet Shoppe sets up a delectable spread of fudge and sweet treats at events across the state including the Kentucky State Fair.
“An older gentleman was standing in front of our booth at the state fair for a little while so I asked him what he was doing,” Pat shared. “He said ‘Do you know how you know when you’re old? When you’re young, you’re hiding a bottle of bourbon from your mother. Now I’m old; I’m hiding fudge from my wife!’ the elderly man chuckled.”
Pat said they’ve met people from all over – both visitors to the shop and at events like the Paducah Quilt Show, including people from many different cultures. The birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, Hodgenville attracts its fair share of tourists, many stopping by The Sweet Shoppe while in town.
When you walk into the store, you’ll see two maps on the wall to the right – the first map filled up quickly and they’ve expanded to a second – with thousands of pins and sticky notes marking the origin of visitors all the way back to 2007.
The Sweet Shoppe offers approximately 20 types of fudge, roughly 16 flavors of ice cream (Velvet and Blue Bell), gourmet apples, homemade cookies and a variety of other sweet treats. The shop prides itself on using a number of Kentucky Proud products.
“We’ve had great support from the community,” said Pat. “I have lived here my whole life. It can be hard to start a business sometimes in a town you grew up in but the local people have been very supportive.”
Pat credits The Sweet Shoppe’s location to their success. A charming storefront on Hodgenville’s square, The Sweet Shoppe offers a laid back, hometown feel – the perfect atmosphere for tourists and families alike on their patio adorned with string lights and picnic tables and a giant chair for a photo op.
The Sweet Shoppe is located at 100 South Lincoln Boulevard in Hodgenville.