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  Updated Dec 28, 2016 | By Bob Fugett

    The Candle Maker

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[  That Town  |  Candle Maker  |  Breakers  |  Four Step  |  Jon Baugh  |  Too Much   |  Startup   |  Cut   |  Art   |  Community   ]

When the police shooting occurred the candle maker had already been running a thriving business in Sugar Loaf for seven years.

If not for the candle maker there would be no long standing artisan community.

His charismatic presence and on-the-precipice edge is very similar to the flow you sense around James Taylor (famous singer-songwriter) while his wife Amy always makes reference to how much he looks like Sean Connery (Bond...James Bond) despite her nickname for him: Pete the Geek.

Once a long time ago, my wife Mary Endico and I picked Pete up at Stewart Airport when he was coming back from a trip out west visiting his folks.

I was astonished by the unexpected larger than life power around him as he swooped out of the plane and flew through the crowd offering a waved hello and smile to everyone swirling out of his path.

I realized it was just something I had become accustomed to and was only making note of it then because of the stark contrast to the people around him.

My thought was, "Well, look at that. Pete is beautiful. Who knew?"

I have lost count of the number of times over the last 37 years when I have mentioned to somebody away from Sugar Loaf (but with knowledge of it) that we have a business in town and heard, "You have a shop in Sugar Loaf? Where?"

The standard dialogue follows:

"You know the Barnsider Restaurant."

"No."

"Ok, the church of course?"

"No."

"The deli?"

"Nope."

"The candle shop?"

"Oh, the candle shop. I love the candle shop."

Then follows a story about why the person loves the candle shop drowning out my mumbled, "Well, two doors down."

So every mall has an anchor store and Sugar Loaf is no different.

Except our anchor store is not a big-box international consortium sitting at both ends of town with multinational advertising campaigns fueling the fires of commerce.

Ours is just a singular small almost shy little shop right in the middle of town.

There is good reason for that beyond the candle maker's personal charm and charisma.

His product competes favorably on the world stage, making up for its lack of big-box store juggernaut promotional force by offering a product that goes well beyond excellence into something so singularly superb it is almost beyond description.

To talk to Peter Lendved about his candles is to converse with an enraptured priest describing his direct talks with the almighty.

I can tell you this: a candle wick is a tiny carburetor that mixes exceedingly precise amounts of oxygen to wax, and controlling the perfect mixture to obtain a perfect light that burns stable and for a long time (while being resistant to spurious winds and drafts) requires a process that defies automation.

Peter's candles are hand-dipped, meaning a number of wicks are held on a pallet at arms length and allowed to slowly sink into a vat of perfectly heated liquid wax then pulled back again slowly enough so he can watch to see the absolute correct amount of puckering pulls up around each filament as the wax struggles to follow the cord back out of the molt.

Each pass into the vat puts the sheerest layer of wax on each candle, a layer so sheer in fact you might say the candles are hand painted.

With deft fingers the cords must be tweaked individually when they slightly slip or are bent away from straight perpendicular.

The candle maker does it four or more wicks at a time with a quick light swipe of the hand, but be assured you could not.

For all this to happen correctly a very specific temperature must be maintained.

Those lucky enough to pass by during a dipping will see the candle shop doors just slightly ajar.

They will not likely realize the amount of opening is not at all happenstance but a very carefully controlled damper.

The thermometer in the room only provides a rule of thumb while every inch of the candle maker's skin plus his eagle eye on the viscosity of the wax gives the final arbitration to just how much the front door must be open, now the back more closed.

With the world being what it is, having the wild variations of temperature, humidity, turbulence, and viscosity that nature dictates, it is assured a human with a lifetime of experience is required to monitor this process successfully.

Of course that human must also possess a passion for correct on an order of magnitude that most people will never know exists.

It requires somebody who would also (every so often) take their car apart down to nuts and bolts, clean each and every piece and put it oh so carefully back together in order to assure a sweet little vintage green Saab remains true to itself.

It would be somebody who keeps their prize motorcycles in the living room where they can be buffed a bit at every chance so a state of the art sportbike will never again be so dirty as it was new leaving the showroom floor.

Somebody who would realize they had to sell a classic little red Jaguar because it had taken over their life.

You know, somebody like Peter Lendved.

Faux hand-dipped candles (elsewhere)

Once while I was shopping with Mary Endico for household items to put in our house in North Carolina, I got excited seeing a sign that proclaimed: Hand-Dipped Candles.

I spouted, "Great. Some hand-dipped candles. Just like being home in New York."

However, almost immediately my unfortunate realization was that the things most places in the world call "hand-dipped candles" are not even close.

Surely the same sad realization comes to everybody trying to find candles similar to Peter Lendved's anyplace other than from his own schooled hand.

The original name for the shop was Resplendent Candles; but, though the name was exceedingly descriptive, the widespread reference to it as merely The Candle Shop was logical cause for the name change.

Just another instance of Sugar Loaf's renown for careful attention to customer needs.

The Candle Shop provides the local artisan businesses with the same central focus as one would expect only from a megalithic corporation.

Oddly the situation with the candle shop and other long standing successful businesses in Sugar Loaf (how and why they are successful) is something that has generally been too subtle for new people in town to understand.

Some say it is magic, but it is not.

It is something quite the opposite of magic, therefore much better.

I will elaborate, but maybe I should mention gun shots again to grab your attention.
 


The Candle Shop

 

 


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