Brenda Hill grew up in the vicinity of the Beaver Valley Store, in a family that valued sweets and with a grandmother who sold popular pies.
So it was little wonder that she roped her family – including her husband, Michael, and their six kids – into producing wholesale confections half a dozen years ago, that have since sold as near as Finnriver Orchard & Cider Garden, and as far away as Pike Place Market.
“We even sell the same recipe of pies as my grandma,” said Brenda, a bubbly blonde with an ever-present grin and a penchant for hugging her kids.
And when the Beaver Valley Store became available for purchase, she saw the perfect opportunity to sell their Sugar Hill brand of candy directly to the public.
Michael, who hails from North Carolina, met Brenda in Tacoma, but he recognizes the Beaver Valley Store.
“I grew up on a farm, with old country stores like this around when I was a kid,” Michael said. “Just about everybody who’s owned this store in the last 40 years has stopped by to wish us well. We had one guy come by and say, ‘I remember going to this store as a kid,’ and that was 50 years ago.”
Indeed, Brenda is hoping not only to diversify the line of sweets she sells, by being able to sell some of them to customers from her own store, rather than selling all of them wholesale through other retailers, but she also wants to impart a feeling of tradition.
Sugar Hill candies are branded “old-fashioned confections,” with treats ranging from sea-salt caramel and soft black licorice to peanut brittle, s’mores and organic cotton candy — plus those pies — with no aspartame or high-fructose corn syrup.
Brenda is just as proud that she’s kept her family first in her new business venture.
July 28 saw the Hills completing their first week of renovations on the old store, with all six kids pitching in as painters, cleaners and all-around worker bees, with age-appropriate labor, as Michael supervised and contributed his own skills as a carpenter.
While all the kids have helped sell candy at fairs and other events, often playing musical instruments to entertain onlookers, daughter Whitney, 17, also created the business’s website (sugarhillcandy.com), which allows customers to order Sugar Hill products online.
By Halloween, Brenda hopes to have the Sugar Hill store up and running, at 2123 Beaver Valley Rd. in Port Ludlow.
“We want a visit to our store to be a beautiful experience, for locals and tourists alike,” Brenda said. “We’d love to be on the [Jefferson County] farm tour eventually. This place has such a wonderful heritage.”
Indeed, a tour of the store (still undergoing remodeling) isn’t complete without Brenda recalling the chicken dinners that were served there in the 1920s or showing off antique photos of the previous owners, and even relics such as telephone…