Stanford Ponson wasn’t going to let the pandemic destroy a dream of his.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native took a crack at the candle industry, opening Chandlery Scent Studio at 1533 South St. in November 2020. But supply chain issues and staffing shortages forced the small business to close just 14 months later.
Now, the 700-square-foot space is giving it another go with everything from artisan candles to scented sprays, soaps, gifts and accessories from local artisans.
But instead of trying to make an immediate return on his investment, Ponson is actually reopening his shop with prices about 20-percent less than average retail during a time when inflation continues to skyrocket. “I want to remain as approachable and affordable as possible for everyone who walks through the door,” said Ponson, who launched Old City Canning Co. in 2017 and has lived in Philadelphia for about a decade. “I work with artisans and suppliers in a way where we can be profitable while not increasing our prices, despite the costs of goods, shipping and almost everything going up since we opened our doors less than two years ago. And because we make most of our products from scratch, we can cut out the middleman and pass those savings onto customers.”
The Chandlery reopened on South Street on Nov. 11 with store hours from Thursday to Sunday. Although the Graduate Hospital location serves as the brick and mortar, the candles are created from scratch at Jasper Studios in Kensington. In the last few years, Old City Canning Co. has become one of the top candle makers in the city, producing nearly 20,000 candles per year.
The store’s interior has been redesigned and Ponson is adding themed candle-making experiences to the store’s offerings.
“Smell is the most under-appreciated sense, and our candle-making workshops are designed to highlight the similarities between candle scents and other sensory activities like wine tasting, flower arranging or tea blending,” he said. “It’s a different approach than your typical candle-making class.”
The Chandlery also sells locally milled cutting boards, rugs, pillows, home decor and gifts from local florists and artisans. Ponson also consults with customers to produce custom scents through his contract manufacturing company, Philadelphia Scent Studio.
“Our mission is really geared toward bringing high-end smells and experiences to everyday Philadelphians,” Ponson said. “We’re ultimately trying to highlight the ‘haute couture’ scents and make them accessible to anyone. We opened with the intention of being a modern supply shop for your home. I learned a lot about this neighborhood when I opened my shop in 2020, and I know the people here are looking for a fresh, fun and positive space to buy gifts. Adding classes and more experiences to the shop is exciting, and I’m really looking forward to getting the doors back open.”