A new business has opened on the Macklind Avenue Business District in the Southampton and Princeton Heights neighborhoods. Urban Candle, a locally owned and operated small business founded by duo Chris DePalma and Jim Hennessey, has opened their brick and mortar retail store at 5844 Macklind. Their business opens during a time when several small and locally owned businesses are closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Urban Candle was originally, and still is, an online retailer that specializes in homemade candles. The business opened up on Macklind, not just because the space was appealing for a business like this, but the neighborhood is where owner, Chris DePalma, has a personal connection. She grew up in the neighborhood.
"We love this City, and we are "Urban Candles" so there would be no better place than a very urban neighborhood. Our heart and our soul is right here. We live in this neighborhood and we love the people here. We're really excited to be apart of it." - Chris DePalma on why she and Jim Hennessey opened the store.
The compact store has a "homey" feel to it. The wood tabletop and shelves coupled with dark metal accenting and the hardwood floors makes the space feel cozy. The white walls, tall ceilings, and large windows facing Macklind help make the space feel airy. When you're in the store, it feels genuine and unique, which is a feel you want to have as a small, locally owned business. The small space also allows for customers to see the process of making the candles.
"We started this business as a hobby, something to do together that would be fun. We had no idea that we would get the type of response that we have from the neighborhood and the community. So, really our hopes are able to grow enough to service everybody who likes to buy candles from us and we hope that we are a good representative of the area." - Jim Hennessey on the business.
When asked about demand up to this point, Jim Hennessey said, "Demand has really increased this year since the pandemic started". It was clear to see this because during my 30 minutes I was in the store collecting images and interviews, you had 5 different customers come in totaling 7 people. It was a steady flow and one that has been common ever since their store opened up on November 21st. "One of thing we like about this is that candles make people happy when they burn them. People get a lot of joy out of buying them and so if we can just create joy for everyone." - Jim Hennessey.
For the Southampton and Princeton Heights neighborhoods, small businesses make the Macklind Business District special. From restaurants and cafes to clothing stores, a candle shop and daycares, Macklind is one of the many parts of the heart of South City. A community built around dreamers who are living the American Dream of owning a small and successful business while contributing to the revitalization of a neighborhood and the City of St. Louis.
"I think small businesses investing their time and their talents into the City are very important. You're embedding yourself. You're investing into this City and it's stability and vibrancy. So part of the stability of this development right here was to vitalize this stretch of Macklind with shops. So we're revitalizing the neighborhood in that way. Helping it to stabilize and grow and giving some vibrancy to it. So we're investing our business and our livelihood along with the neighborhood." - Chris DePalma
The opening of the Urban Candle store continues the revitalization of the Macklind Avenue business district, which according to Jim Hennessey, customers are glad to see the continued comeback.
"Customers have pointed out that over the last 8 years, this whole street (Macklind) and block has been nothing but kind of desolate and nothing going on and people are happy to see some development."
And that revitalization has continued and will continue. Recently, Clementine's Creamery opened up a location at 4715 Macklind, which is a piece of the property formerly occupied by the Macklind Avenue Deli. The main piece of the property, formerly occupied by the deli, has sat vacant for a few years since the building came down after a fire, but a proposal is out there to build a 3-story, 20-unit apartment building with 735sf of retail space fronting Nottingham. The same corner recently saw an old Church converted into apartments.
The building that the Urban Candle store is in has undergone a thorough renovation. The biggest change to the building are the new store front windows that replace small windows and siding. The building is currently occupied by several businesses including Co-Radius (a coworking space), The Wagamama (an animal lover's boutique and cafe), and Urban Candle.
Urban Candle is currently open Friday-Sunday with hours being...
Friday and Saturday: 8AM-6PM
Address: 5844 Macklind (South of Rhodes)