MASONTOWN — Blueberry Hill Yum-yums, a one-woman operation, is creating delicious baked goods for Preston County.
Billi Collins, a lifelong Prestonian, has been baking since she was 7 or 8 — old enough to stand on a stool to reach the kitchen counter. She learned through trial-and-error.
“My mom was a barber. She worked. So I had a lot of time on my hands at home. You know, and she would just let me do whatever I wanted, bake cookies or cake or pie,” Collins said. “We’d bake always on Saturdays, when she was home; on Sunday.”
She didn’t start her career as a baker. Collins worked at Dairy Mart in Masontown for 21 years, leaving for Brown’s Mill Grocery in Arthurdale not long after Circle K took over the Masontown store.
Then she got sick and had to quit working until last summer when she recovered.
“I just started baking here at home and going to farmers markets in Kingwood and Masontown,” Collins said.
The reaction was positive — with bread being an especially popular item — and now Collins delivers baked goods three times a week to Street’s Store in Masontown.
“Billi came in here just asking if we would be interested in setting up a rack and everything else. And we were just kind of curious about what she would sell. We thought we’d try it out. She’s done extremely well for us,” said James Cottrell, department manager at Street’s and mayor of Masontown.
The products sell out fast. Stockings are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and the rack is typically empty by the time Collins comes back, Cottrell said.
Employees usually take the first crack at the fresh goods. Cottrell said his favorite are her pepperoni rolls with cheese, homemade peppers and sauce inside.
“The owner here says we all gain weight,” Cottrell said. “We call it our Billi belly.”
Collins also makes cobblers, pies, cakes, cookies, candy, jams, and jellies.
Orders can be placed directly through the Blueberry Hill Yum-yums’ Facebook page or by emailing email@example.com. In spring and summer she also sells at Route 7 Farm Market.
Collins said she was surprised at the demand.
Her baking has taken over the house but hopefully she will be able to move the business to a garage her husband is building.
“You get stuff baked and bagged and tagged and ready to go and it’s covering the kitchen table, on the washer and the dryer,” Collins said. “It takes a lot room. It really does.”
One bedroom is dedicated to the staples such as flour and sugar.
Speaking as the mayor, Billi’s products have been good for Masontown, Cottrell said.
“Inside of town it has actually drawn people in, which has created better revenue for the town and just kind of just boosted foot traffic through the store. It’s boosted foot traffic through the town and it’s actually done pretty good for us.”