Olentangy Valley News

Candle Lab flame still bright despite store closing, owner says

By

Although they recently closed one store, the owners of the Candle Lab want loyal customers to know the business is still going strong.

In fact, with plans for a mobile trailer, wine and beer service at their three remaining locations and a future expansion in the works, the pour-your-own candle and fragrance business might be busier than ever.

Steve Weaver, co-owner of the Candle Lab along with his wife, Katesha, closed the doors at their Powell location for the last time Feb. 23.

Weaver said the stores in Grandview Heights, the Short North and Worthington are "doing really well," adding 2013 was the best year for the company "by a big margin."

"(The Powell store) was holding its own," he said.

"It just wasn't getting the community response we were getting in our three other locations."

With multiple new opportunities on the drawing board for the business and two young daughters at home, Weaver said it was time to end the investment of time and money into the Powell location.

"Everything we're doing has got to have a lot of bang for the buck," he said.

Two investments Weaver thinks can provide that bang are alcohol service at the remaining Candle Lab stores and a mobile trailer.

He said the two questions employees receive from customers most often are: "Can I drink while I'm pouring my candles?" and "Can you come to my home for a party?" Soon, employees will be able to answer both with a "yes."

Weaver said the process of remodeling the stores to add dishwashers, refrigerators and other necessities for alcohol service will be completed in mid-April.

He said the 16-foot trailer with a full "candle bar" should be ready to roll to private parties and public events in late March.

The trailer will serve multiple purposes for the business. Weaver said he hopes to take the trailer to events such as Comfest and the Moonlight Market in Columbus and farmers markets and festivals in Upper Arlington, Powell and other central Ohio communities.

The 12-seat trailer also will be used to scout potential locations for future Candle Lab expansions.

Weaver said setting up shop with the trailer at different neighborhoods in a city could help him determine what areas would be the most receptive to his business.

He said he's been looking at potentially expanding the business to locations in Cleveland and Louisville, Ky.

There are no plans for additional Columbus-area sites in the works.

Weaver said he's taking lessons he learned from the Powell store's closure, as well as the prior closure of a Gahanna location, and applying them to his search for new expansion sites.

He said his experience operating a store in Gahanna's Creekside development, which opened in 2008 and was in receivership by 2011, taught him to look toward established developments.

"There's not a risk going into Easton (Town Center in Columbus)," he said.

"There is a risk going into (business with) someone wanting to build a new Easton from scratch."

The business' three-year run in Powell taught a different lesson.

Weaver said he and his wife learned it's OK to call it quits on a venture if it's just not meeting expectations.

He said the effort they were putting into the Powell store wasn't getting the right results.

"We thought we could just will it to happen, and that turned out not to be the case," he said.

Still, Weaver said he will miss the Powell store and hopes the community's customers visit the other locations and the mobile trailer.

"We love our Powell customers. We love the Powell community," he said.

"For the most part this has been a very positive experience. We're sad to be leaving."

Comments