WILLCOX — Local entrepreneurs Sandra Lopez and Amber Williams have brought the southwest corner of North Haskell Avenue and East Stewart Street in Willcox back to life. The longtime friends opened The Corner Store Sweets & Boutique May 20, a combination confectionery and fashion/accessories shop.

Inside the shop, Lopez the baker, tends a sweets counter filled with her delectable creations. This portion of The Corner Store is named Ethan’s Heavenly Creations.

The list of baked delights includes cookie selections like Gourmet Oreos and Caramel Corn Jumbo Cookies, five cupcake flavors like Red Velvet Cheesecake and Vegan Strawberry Panna Cotta, as well as muffins and croissants.

Lopez named the sweets counter to honor her late grandson Ethan Ardrey, lost to suicide in 2020 at the age of 13. A portion of the sales goes to mental health awareness initiatives and organizations in Arizona.

Lopez is part of The Depressed Cake Initiative, a community of bakers and mental health activists brought together to heal through the power of baking and camaraderie.

Ethan’s pleasure in her baking was the motivation to open a business.

“He always wanted me to open a bakery or be in a TV show, he loved my baking and I’d plan birthday cakes well in advance,” Lopez said.

With the pandemic easing, Lopez decided to bring Ethan’s wish to fruition and through her business help bring awareness to the community’s mental health needs.

Amber Rose Emporium, the boutique retail portion of the shop, is a carry-over from Williams’ home-based business as over several years she honed her craft and fashion acumen.

Her wares range from dresses, shirts and hats to sterling silver and turquoise jewelry crafted by indigenous Americans. The store will offer locally sourced merchandise when possible.

Williams is excited to have added a new department to the Emporium named Javelina Dry Goods and Sundries, carrying accessories targeted at male customers.

That merchandise is curated by her husband, Victor, a U.S. Border patrolman for 17 years. He did all the finishing work in the shop’s interior remodel.

Williams said, “We’re always asked for men’s things and never had much, so we’ve added it to see how it goes.”

The women credit launching into the business from the longtime support they received from Randi Coleman, owner of Randi’s Hearts and Flowers located nearby on Maley Street.

Williams sold her fashion and design items through Randi’s store, developing a customer base. It was there the ladies first met, and Lopez began selling baked goods through Coleman’s store.

“The reason we did this is because we had that little spot,” Williams said.

“She gave us both the start and the kick we needed to start here,” Lopez agreed. “That’s where our vision kind of mirrored and we decided to build on it.”

“With this business we’re looking to build relationships with our customers, get to know them as people,” Williams said about her hopes for the boutique.

“We’ve had a lot of support. People have come in and shared their story about mental health,” Lopez added. “We want to raise awareness and at the same time provide a good service for Willcox.”