Sunday, June 24, 2012

Buyacandle.com Official Blog

Welcome to the official blog from Buyacandle.com!  We have a passion for making fine candles... with great service & terrific prices... and we do it right here in the United States of America!

How it all began!

In 1980, at 9 years of age - around the Holiday Season - in 4th grade I remember making my very first candle.  It was a simple milk carton candle.  Wrapped in a bow with glitter on it.  That was all it took!  That single candle was the cause of many trips to the supermarket to buy "canning wax"... the easiest way for a 9 year old kid to beg his mother to buy paraffin wax was in the isle of the supermarket.  Besides, show me a mom who doesn't love candles!  The giant mess I'm certain to have made aside, I enjoyed it very much... using everything from yogurt containers, paper towel tubes, and just about anything else I could think of as a mold.  I wish I could remember what I used for wick back then - to be honest, I really can't remember, I have to assume it was some kind of string from the kitchen draw.  We all have "that" draw in our kitchen with a little bit of everything!  On second thought I think I may have melted down perfectly good candles (for the wax, if I know myself LOL) and used the old wick.  Not very concerned about wick sizing and such when you're 9, I suppose. :)

Continuing, as a youngster, I made candles on and off with a bunch of small jobs and a paper route in between (do they even have paper routes anymore?) fate stepped in again.  Walking around a mall in Paramus, NJ with a friend before the holiday season I noticed a help wanted sign on a kiosk that was barely set up.  I had no idea what they were selling... all I saw was that "Help Wanted" sign.  As I approached the wooden clad counter I saw that magic word! "Candle" it was for the world renowned Candlestock of Woodstock, NY.  "How cool" is what I remember thinking to myself! I have to admit that at the time I didn't have a clue what Woodstock was all about, where it was or anything else.  I did know that there was a really neat dipping tank being set up, and lots and lots and lots of boxes to unpack -- all full of candles. I'm not sure if I was more excited about all the candles or about the fact that they needed somebody to unpack them.  I suppose Mr. Moss, the owner, could sense a hardworking and eager pair of hands and I was hired on the spot.  I distinctly remember Mr. Moss sending me to go get a package of pens from one of the stores on the other side of the mall.  I ran as quickly as I could - back then I think it would have been considered wanting to please your boss -- today, we call it work ethic - something everyone still prides themselves on at Buyacandle.com

Working at the Candlestock kiosk was a seasonal thing and by February of that same year it was over.  There were a bunch of visits to their store and the two car garage that they rented out from Mr. Raleigh... The seed had been planted - unbeknownst it to me!

Three floors up in the right hand
corner... "The Loft"
1990-1991
(photo as appears today)


As the years went on I had many other jobs that were mostly retail. During these years a passion for working with and meeting new people was honed.  During college, I believe in 1990, candle making was reintroduced into my life.  Having saved enough money, I wanted to spend more time on my academic pursuits but still wanted to do something on the side - loving to work with my hands and recalling the fun I had making candles I rented a small commercial loft and began experimenting - making all different kinds of candles.  This allowed me to spend the much needed time studying while also making candles!

The shelves were piling up with candles!  What do I do with all these candles!? A couple miles away a flea market had opened! An idea! Why not open a booth in the flea market and see what comes of it?  It was right before the Holiday Season, the peak time for candles!  The shelves quickly emptied and before we knew it we were making candles and selling candles.  It seems that we had a candle business on our hands!  I continued to go to school full time, work the business and make the candles.  Looking back - how it all got done, I wish I knew -- but it got done!

Our First Store!
1991-2002

(photo as appears today)
The flea market started to slow down -- and not wanting to lose momentum I decided to drive up and down all the major "Main Streets" in the various surrounding neighborhoods in search of a storefront to rent.  I explored all the "main drags" I thought would be a good fit... Lodi, Rutherford, Hasbrouck Heights, Bergenfield, Ridgewood, and Hoboken (all in New Jersey) (and probably others I can't recall!).  After a few visits I settled on a store that was 400SF (Small (actually tiny) as it was looking back, it seemed huge having come from a tiny booth in a flea market!)  The store was located at 200 Boulevard - Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.  On the corner of Hamilton and Boulevard. The store had previously been a hair salon.  With limited funds I began converting it to a candle store.  We made all the fixtures ourselves with inexpensive lumber and then wrapped them in fabric - the counter, everything, it all looked really good considering what we made it with!  I wish a picture (especially of the way we decorated it for Christmas!) existed, but none do. :(  That tiny store became the largest selection of candles in the tri-state area!  That's right.  There wasn't another candle store in New Jersey, New York, or Connecticut with as many diverse candles as we had - and it wasn't just because we said it -- other candle store owners would come to us wanting to challenge us, they would walk into our store and say, "Well -- I came to challenge you -- I can't -- you really *do* have the largest selection of candles I've ever seen!".  We had everything.  Figurine candles, pressed flower candles, tie-dyed candles, containers, floaters, votives, pillar candles, sand candles, the list went on and on -- you name it, we had them and if we didn't, we could make it!

Article about our first store - I thought it was "artistic" to call myself Peter Michaels. LOL
For over 11 years we stayed in that store (eventually expanding to the space behind us) and became the largest candle party favor maker in the tri-state area as well.  We made countless party favors for everything from weddings to corporate events and beyond.  I wish we knew exactly how many favors we made -- I can remember the entire floor of the store and the workshop being covered with trays of the delicately wrapped favors.  So many big memories from such a small store!  Countless hours spent studying for school at the counter -- customers would come in just to see what I was learning about -- all the while making candles, running back and forth to school and the shop.  From the front of the store to help a customer to the back of the store to make candles... party favors being wrapped at the counter... if only a piece of that counter could talk today, all the fine candles that passed over it!  Wow!

I graduated from college with my undergraduate degree and realizing how much I loved academia, I went on to get my graduate degree.  All studying in that little store - doing what I love - making candles and talking to the greatest customers ever!

LuLu - Our Mascot!
Adopted in December 2000
Photo taken: June 28, 2012
In December of 2000 our mascot, LuLu our mixed-up dog joined us!

In the Spring of 2002 a very hard decision was made. The tiny candle store on the corner was going to close. We were still busy... but things were changing - there was something new on the horizon.  The Internet. A few years prior we bought a domain name called Buyacandle.com and started putting together a website.  Teaching ourselves everything we could along the way about it. Buyacandle.com had been up and running and was starting to see some light traffic.  I wanted to pursue it full time and made the leap. We had a spectacular "relocation sale" from a traditional store to a virtual store and sold everything in the store.  The candles, the fixtures -- everything.




We started Buyacandle.com fresh -- albeit in our own 2 car garage (like that of Candlestock's recalled from many years past!) and our basement with two bedrooms as offices.  (This was before children and more which I'll get into later! LOL.)  Buyacandle.com's entire production was sprawled out among a huge portion of our home.  It wasn't that long ago that entire pallets with cases of wax were dropped off in our driveway and hand carried into our kitchen and brought down - one-by-one - into the basement for storage.  2000+ pounds, 50 pounds at a time, up the side stairs, in the middle of the kitchen, and then down the basement stairs and stacked up!


Somewhere along the line we added a Toll-Free telephone number -- and then we added a second one... just in case! :) -- and it's on top of every page on our site!  If you ever can't figure something out, need an idea, or have a question, just call us. We answer *every* call and love helping!


From there we grew Buyacandle.com into a leading online candle store. A vast array of candles with an amazing selection of pillar candles and floating candles just to name a few.

In 2007, I married Stefani - an extremely skilled graphic artist and designer, formally trained at the prestigious Philadelphia University where she received her undergraduate degree in graphic design communications.  Stefani joined me immediately following our marriage and has been a part of the daily operations of Buyacandle.com ever since.

The Lord blessed us with a boy in 2008, Fox William... and then again in 2010 with a girl, Hadley Dagny.
  
Buyacandle.com's New Home!
2011-Today
In early 2011 another major change was announced. Buyacandle.com was moving -- and not just into a more suitable location, but we were really moving. From New Jersey to Florida! We figured, if we're going to load up an entire business and move it, we might as well make it count!  Much like in the past we did it ourselves.  We loaded the business - candle by candle - box by box, into three trucks along with all our belongings and drove each truck 1200 miles to our new location! Our new location is a dream for us!  Located at 5453 NW 24th Street Suite 1, in Margate, FL, we can now continue to grow, yet stay hands-on enough to ensure that each customer still gets the very best service at the best price!  We look forward to many changes to come and hope you'll be there to share them all with us!

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