There is no butcher, no baker and even no candlestick maker — at least on site — but one new St. Joseph business needs none of the above to succeed.
Judi Benninghoff and her son, Ed Bennett, opened The Candlestick Maker downtown in April after its successful run at the American Countryside Farmers Market in Elkhart, Ind. The popular market closed due to financial difficulties in 2010, leaving Benninghoff's business homeless.
Benninghoff, a Niles resident and "chief fragrance officer," retired a few years ago after a 42-year career with Alpha Baking Co. of LaPorte, Ind. She began making intricate dock scenes of local towns 25 years ago and sold them at reputable art festivals. When she bought out a candle dealer for her farmers' market booth — which was one-quarter the size of her store — sales took off.
"She ended up doing it full-time," Bennett said.
When the market closed, Benninghoff scoped out southwest Michigan communities for potential store locations. She committed all of her retirement nest egg into moving The Candlestick Maker to St. Joe.
A St. Joseph resident who works as a manufacturer's representative, Bennett — the "vice president of common scents" — took note of the unique business structure downtown; many businesses do not keep long hours, they cater to seasonal visitors and carry high-end merchandise.
"I live here and know a lot of the local people," Bennett said.
"Our focus has been to really get a lot of local artisan crafts," as well as beach glass jewelry, rugs, nautical decor and scented oils, he said.
Bennett and Benninghoff tried their hand at candle-making, but learned that consumers want name-brand candles. However, they do make their own soap and even potpourri from dehydrated greenery and fruit that customers can scoop themselves.
"She has a knack for what people like," Bennett said of his mother.
They also believed they could fill a niche because their store is open until 8 p.m. seven days a week, making it more convenient for locals to shop after work.
"We wanted to be different that way," Bennett said.
The Candlestick Maker is located at 408 State St., St. Joseph. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. It can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/secret.candleman.
By KATIE ROHMAN contributing writer from Leader Publication's Off The Water