VIROQUA — Jody Koopman began making candy with her mother and grandmother, as a girl growing up on a farm near Viroqua.
She enjoyed it so much, she began her The Sugar Shack candy business eight years ago.
Koopman makes her sweet treats in a state-licensed commercial kitchen in her rural Viroqua home. She sells some of them at about 10 events each year.
Her candies also are available year-round at four retail outlets – The Cheese Corner and the Viroqua Public Market, both in Viroqua; at Wehling Farms near Westby and at Pasture Pride Cheese in Cashton. And people can contact Koopman to place an order.
It’s a part-time business for Koopman, who has worked full time at a local bank for the past 18 years.
“I did a lot of baking with my mom and my grandma when I was growing up,” Koopman said in an interview in her candy kitchen. “My grandma got me started on candy. She bought me some candy molds for Christmas one year” when Koopman was about 10.
Koopman, her mother and grandmother made candy for friends and family, especially during the Christmas holiday season.
“Ever since I started making candy, I’ve always thought it would be fun to have a candy store,” Koopman said. She still would like to do that, but doesn’t have a timetable for opening her own store.
Koopman turned her candy-making hobby into a business in 2009, selling her sweets at the Saturday famers market in Viroqua and at some area craft shows.
“I enjoy making it,” she said of her candy. “It’s kind of relaxing. You can focus on what you’re doing. And I like going to shows and seeing people I know, and making new friends.”
Her mother, Diane Koopman, helps her make candy before major events where The Sugar Shack’s candy will be sold.
Some of The Sugar Shack’s most popular candies include sweet and salty caramels, peanut butter crunch balls, turtles, cashew crunch and fudge.
Milk chocolate is Koopman’s most popular fudge flavor, followed by butter pecan and creamy lemon.
Her long list of candies also includes some seasonal novelty molded candies, such as rose-shaped chocolate pops for Valentine’s Day and chocolate snowmen and Christmas stockings during the holiday season.
Koopman also makes several kinds of cookie and brownie mixes.
Some of The Sugar Shack’s customers order candy by telephone, email or Facebook messaging.
“That’s a fair amount of my business, especially during the Christmas season,” Koopman said. Some area businesses order her candy as a holiday gift for their clients.
Koopman has shipped candy to people as far away as South Carolina and Washington state.
In the coming weeks, she will be selling her candy at the Monroe County Historical Society arts and craft show Nov. 4 at Sparta High School, at a craft and vendor fair Nov. 18 at Viroqua High School and at the Vernon Memorial Healthcare holiday craft show Dec. 7.