Candle shop provides unique shopping experience

Andrew Henderson

Fountain Square Park has many notable local attractions to offer residents of Bowling Green and tourists to the area alike, but one business is chemically balanced to attract customers and provide all the comforts of home.

Candle Makers on the Square was started in 2007 by Janet Stephens and Vicki Fitch, and bought by Michael Barron in 2009. 

Stephen Parks, the manager of the store, said that there are many things that set Candle Makers apart from other candle shops.

“The fact that we make candles in house every day, sort of like a bakery, is what sets us apart,” he said. “That and we have many pieces of local art in the shop as well, so we’re really more like a tourist spot.” 

The store is lined with the aforementioned homemade candles and art, but also includes an array of books, written by local authors, and wooden toys and baubles in a glass display.

Candle Makers customers are typically seen wandering the store, browsing the merchandise and taking in the various candle scents. 

Karen Hessen, a store employee, is frequently seen manning the front counter in the store. Hessen has been with the shop for several years.

Hessen said the candle making process is more scientific than many expect. 

“It’s a lot like cooking, baking, you have a recipe and you need consistency,” she said. 

She said the candle making process can take up to three days, and there are many steps to follow in between before reaching a finished product. 

“With our candles being 10 percent fragrance, it’s all done by weight, so you have to have the wax at certain temperature, a certain number of drops of dye and fragrance,” she said. 

Hessen said the candles made at Candle Makers on the Square have the highest concentration of fragrance possible in candle before the brain can no longer recognize the scent. 

 Parks said Stephens, one of the original owners, was a chemical engineer before starting the candle business. 

Parks said the candle recipe is “chemically perfect.”

The candle business is primarily a seasonal business.

“We get about a third of our business in November and December, so we really needed something to get us through the summer,” he said. 

That “something” turned out to be a bed and breakfast. 

The Candle Loft is a bed and breakfast located directly above Candle Makers on the Square. It was started in 2012, with Barron and Parks at the reign. 

The shop relocated to its current location back in the summer of 2012 and discovered a few empty apartments above. Parks was intrigued, initially thinking he would make one his home.

“Once I had moved in there I told Mike that it’d be a really cool idea to put a bed and breakfast in one of the other apartment spaces up here,” Parks said.

Two weeks later, the duo decided to proceed with the idea. 

“Everything from there just sort of happened on a whim,” he said. 

They set out to make it different from the typical bed and breakfast.

“When we tell people it’s non-traditional, we mean that we don’t cook for you,” Hessen said. 

The Candle Loft instead offers guests food vouchers to some of the local cafés, such as Spencer’s and Mariah’s. 

Despite the Loft and Candle Makers being two separate business types, Parks believes that the two businesses complement each other very well. 

“The bed and breakfast will get us through the summertime and the candles are going to get us through winter,” Parks said.

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