Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!
One of southern Ohio’s most unique gift shops is just a stone’s throw from Lake Hope State Park in Vinton County. The shop is special, not just for the products offered, but because of its location. Zaleski Candle Works is housed in a nineteenth century barn that was once the town’s livery stable, according to owner Susan Tripp.
The cheerful red exterior of the barn combined with a large quilt block at the peak make the shop easy to find. The antique doors and vintage décor outside make it welcoming to come inside where customers will find a fun collection of handmade candles, antiques, vintage items and reproduction vintage décor.
The original wood floors are marked with age, worn in places from carriage wheels and horse shoes. In places the walls reveal impressions of advertising from a bygone era and the old tack room is home to rows and rows of handmade candles.
Longtime visitors to the Hocking Hills might remember Susan’s first shop, Wicker Cabins Gifts, which was located in Vinton County near Ash Cave. She closed the shop when she got married and moved to Zaleski but missed the business and opted to try again in her new hometown. “I really missed the shop and I missed the people. Some of the nicest people come here from all over the place,” she said with a smile.
Zaleski Candle Works opened in 2010, giving visitors to Lake Hope State Park a place to buy unique finds including Susan’s handmade candles. “People who grew up coming to Lake Hope are now bringing their kids or grandkids. Those people usually stay and talk,” she said.
With over two hundred scents and more in development, Susan’s menu of scents for candles and tarts is constantly evolving. Among her most popular are the Lake Hope and Moonville Tunnel branded candles. Many of the favorites are classic baked goods, apple, coffee and floral scents. Others are a bit more unusual like “Monkey Farts,” a fruity scent with a name that always generates conversation. She said men tend to like the whiskey and bourbon scents.
Some customers blend different scents, using them in different rooms. Susan enjoys blending Kettle Corn and Mulberry because the resulting aroma evokes a childhood memory. She said that Coffee and Hot Buttered Rum is another pair that blends well.
Whatever the scent, Susan takes pride in the fact her candles and tarts hold their scent longer than most of her competitors. “Personally, I want my scents to last longer so I make them that way for my customers,” she said.
In addition to selling candles from her shop, she also sells at the Lake Hope State Park Gift Shop, the Rusted Barn in Wellston and several Shriver’s Pharmacies. She also can do custom orders where a customer provides the container as well as large orders with custom labels for special events like weddings, reunions and holidays.
The shop also carries a nice variety of antiques, vintage items, primitives and reproduction décor.
In the summer Susan keeps cold drinks and snacks for sale and plans to put a picnic table under the trees for customers to enjoy the shade and a little rest from their hiking or their retail therapy. Another addition she is planning is a line of homemade soaps.
“This has been a really good thing for me, having the store. I like doing my own thing and I’ve always enjoyed making things,” Susan explained. “I also love meeting people and hearing their stories, especially when they’re repeat customers. Some of my customers I look forward to hearing from and seeing every year. It’s just a good fit for me!”
Zaleski Candle Works hosts a fall open house every November. Follow them on Facebook or call 740.596.7054.