On April 13, 1978 Stephen and Patricia Howanitz opened the doors to American Candle. Now a Pocono Mountains staple, the establishment continues to harness true Poconos spirit. Enchanting is the only word that can possibly sum up everything American Candle has to offer. When you walk into the huge establishment, you are immediately met with the aroma of candles, soothing music, and beautiful displays that let you know you are not in your average candle shop.
Patricia and Stephen opened the store with the goal of bringing quality service to the Poconos. During their humble beginnings the shop housed candles, candle accessories, and home décor. Visitors could see candles being made and enjoy the simple pleasantries of all things wax. At that time, making candles was done on a much smaller scale. All candles were made on the premises and candles produced were limited to hand carved creations, with the creator using tools on warm wax, pulling and peeling at parts of the candle to make different designs. But as the years grew greater in number, so did their square footage.
Eventually, American Candle’s output became so great that it was necessary to relocate their manufacturing operations. While visitors can still see candles made every day on the store premises, a larger 134,000 square foot building in Wind Gap makes it possible to provide the surplus of visitors with all their candle needs. But expansion did not begin to cease there. It took over their retail premises as well.
Aiming to enhance the customer’s experience of American Candle, the Howanitz’s added something every two years. Around 1982 they provided a candy store. Customers were exposed to more sweets than they could imagine. Over a hundred barrels filled with old and new varieties—including everything from malt balls and root beer barrels to fried eggs and Swedish fish—challenged a customer’s ability to pick only one. Coffee varieties and a seating area were added as well, providing visitors with an old time soda shoppe feel.
Soon, new products adorned the shelves. High-end brands made an appearance, and entire lines started to grace the rooms of American Candle. Today you can find not only American Candle’s personal line of products, but you can compare them next to Yankee and Woodwick candles and countless accessory lines. You can even make your own candles at the WaxWorks, layering all scents you choose. But, as we have seen, this company is so much more than just pillars of wax.
Stroll through the many rooms of the huge structure that houses this business and you will find gifts, figurines, charming holiday villages and seasonal merchandise, artwork, home décor, handcrafted jewelry, wedding accessories, Swarovski crystal, even an entire women’s boutique. You’ll also find the new additions of Pandora merchandise and the Vera Bradley line. “American Candle is all about variety,” states Patricia. “It is very difficult to find a store that carries full lines of products and such a diverse selection. People always like to shop where everything is under one roof so they can enjoy themselves longer.” It is no secret that this business has that variety.
With everything they offer, you would think American Candle couldn’t get any more enchanting. But with their family run feel they really escalate every shopping trip to a shopping affair. When they first opened, the business had five employees. The customers and employees all shared that stereotypical small town relationship. As the years passed, more employees were hired, but that personal attention never ceased to exist. “The employees have been the backbone of this company,” emphasizes Patricia. “We have a lot of employees that have been with us many years, some even 30 years, that help to bring the customers back. It’s not only my face or Stephen’s that these people recognize. It’s also our employees’.”
With its personal attention and small business charm American Candle is one of the area’s most popular places to shop. Their quality and commitment shines through on every level. As the business has expanded and time has passed, American Candle is still run the way it was at its roots. A part of Pocono’s history, American Candle is so much more than just great candles.
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