By Laura Ann Tipps/Staff Writer
Since 1999, J&J Candles has been providing candles to the Etowah County community and beyond.
The store began as a hobby for James and Joyce Gaylor, who started dabbling in candle making at home.
“She started making candles in their kitchen, after they retired the first time,” according to their son, Dennis, whose wife, Nicky, began working for J and J in 2001.
Dennis and Nicky Gaylor bought the East Gadsden store from Dennis’ parents in 2007 and moved it to its current spot on Broad Street two years later.
“We have a lot of space here, and a lot of storage space upstairs, which is great,” said Nicky.
Dennis and Nicky, who were high school sweethearts and have been married for over 20 years, put their teamwork to good use in the candle business.
While Dennis does most of the candle making, Nicky handles the front of the store, bookkeeping, and their thriving wholesale business.
Wholesale buyers can purchase candles at a discounted rate and re-sell them as they wish, but many of the candles are used in fundraisers held by sports teams, cheerleading squads, schools and churches.
“We’ve even helped people with cancer by helping to cover their expenses as they travel back and forth to Birmingham for treatment,” said Nicky.
The Gaylors have sent candles all over the country and to regular wholesalers in several states; some of their candles have made it as far as England.
Dennis and Nicky travel almost as much as their candles do, trekking around the southeast attending trade shows almost every weekend.
There is also a J&J Candles in Rome, Ga., which is run by the Gaylors’ cousin, and candles can be bought individually or wholesale through their website, jandjcandles.net.
Whether they are sold in Rome, in Gadsden, or online, all J&J Candles are handmade from start to finish.
“I make everything but the glass jar and the lid,” said Dennis.
Dennis can concoct over 400 scents, but the store only stocks about 220 on a regular basis. The rest can be made by request if a customer wants a discontinued scent.
“I’m always redoing the scent list for our website, jandjcandles.net,” said Nicky.
While J&J sells many classics like apple cinnamon and blueberry pie, it is the unique scents that keep people coming back over the years.
Two of the candles with the most attention-grabbing names are also two of the most popular scents: Alabama Kudzu and Butt Naked.
“All the ones with pomegranate have been the best sellers lately, though,” said Nicky.
Because of the care they take with their craft and the plethora of available scents, the candle making process is ongoing.
“It really doesn’t take too long to make one, but because we make so many, it’s all day, every day,” said Dennis.