Owner Kristanna Barnes creates a website, takes out a federal PPP loan and now is open by appointment only.
Just six months after Wick: A Candle Bar opened in San Marco, COVID-19 forced it to close temporarily.
The store was “doing really, really well,” said co-owner Kristanna Barnes, who runs the store with her son, Hampton. The store, at 1641 Hendricks Ave., allows customers to make their own custom candles.
“We were very busy, having great fun,” she said. “People seemed to really enjoy having something to do and to gather with their friends.”
When nonessential businesses were required to close, Wick shut its doors March 17. That was “worrisome” to her and Hampton, especially with a new business.
“Are we going to survive? Your biggest fear is we’re only 6 months old,” Barnes said. “Are people going to forget about us while we’re closed?”
Soon after closing, Hampton Barnes began building a website. Even though customers could not come in to make a candle, they could still order certain scents, or request a custom-made candle. They were available for pickup at the store.
Barnes said they received a few orders a day through the website, which helped keep the business’s name out there and provided some income.
“That was better than to have nothing happening,” she said.
Sales dropped 87% during the time the store was closed.
Barnes said since her company was less than a year old, the only small business assistance program she qualified for was the Paycheck Protection Program, which she received. The other loans and assistance available required businesses to have operated for one year.
Barnes said she continued paying her two full-time employees during the shutdown.
Wick: A Candle Bar reopened initially May 6 for retail only and for appointments only May 23. Now, customers can come in to make candles, but must make an appointment for one of six time slots each day. Only one group is allowed in the store at a time.
Since reopening, sales haven’t recovered, and still are down 64%.
Staff will wear masks, but customers can choose whether they want to. Barnes said it’s difficult to smell candles with a mask on.
Barnes said at 65 years old, she tries to stay out of the store as much as she can. Those who come into the store do not seem nervous since there is only one group at a time.
“People still love candles. The pandemic wasn’t going to stop people wanting candles,” she said. “It’s going to be in a different way, a different experience.”
Despite the uncertainty of the situation, Barnes said she is confident the business will survive the shutdown.
“You just try to do everything you can,” she said. “We just try our best. and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But so far, we’re doing good.”