By Diane Y. Welch
Tucked away off the main road at 14906 Via de la Valle stands the Knorr Candle Shop. The Del Mar-based business, founded in 1928 by Ferdinand Knorr, is a unique retail store that stocks a myriad of colors, textures and sizes of candles and honeycomb wax sheets. It is also home to the factory where Knorr’s famous dripless 100 percent beeswax candles are artfully created, an enduring craft that has been passed down through three generations.
A recent addition to the store is the Artisan Marketplace. Opened in the fall of 2012, it’s an opportunity for local crafts people, artists and artisans to lease space where they may display and sell their merchandise. It’s a symbiotic relationship that has added a new element to the vintage business and one that is helping it compete in the modern market, said Karin Johnston, one of Knorr’s longtime employees.
The sales staff take care of the retail transactions and through the website the company helps promote the merchants. To build further awareness, on Saturday, April 12, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., the candle shop will showcase these vendors in a celebratory Spring Fling event. Free and open to the public, there will be light refreshments and some of the merchants will give demonstrations of their crafts, said Johnston.
Jewelry artist Linda Melvin will demonstrate the delicate art of silversmithing; Dennis Wymbs, owner of Eros Galleries, will show how he creates works of art by painting with beeswax; and there will be tasty samplings of Sue Thomas’s jams and jellies, from her business Fruits of my Labor.
Eleven local vendors will showcase their products at the event. Other items include hand-made bird boxes, floral arrangements with sculpture, hand-thrown pottery and a variety of candles. Local beekeeper Laurie Decker, owner of California Bee Works, will have jars of her honey for sale alongside her sculptured beeswax creations.
Struggling to compete through the difficult recent recession, the business, Knorr Beeswax Products Inc., and the physical property were sold last year. With a long-term lease, the Knorr family is able to stay in the business. Third generation Steve Knorr is now running general operations, with Susan Prickett — who has been with the company over 15 years — employed as store manager.
Steve’s father, Henry, recently turned 93 years old. “Every year we make Henry’s favorite food for his birthday,” said Prickett, “Homemade chicken enchiladas and, of course, a cake from the French Gourmet Bakery.”
Henry still helps with the candle machines in the factory and brings in the mail each day, said Prickett. “Most mornings you can hear the sound of a staple gun at 8 a.m. clicking away up at his house, as he still builds all the bee boxes that we sell to bee keepers.”
Knorr candles are a result of the industrious efforts of thousands of bees. According to the Knorr Beeswax website, 160,000 bees must travel 150,000 miles to collect the necessary nectar to produce 60 pounds of honey that yields only one pound of beeswax. When the candles were first developed they were initially sold to local gift shops, but now the factory produces more than 1 million candles each year and is a global business, said Johnston, who has been with the family business since 1978 when Henry was in charge.
The current success is largely due to the collective team effort of family, staff and local vendors. “With our combined skills and ideas it all works. I think the arrangement will take us into a more stable future,” Johnston said.
Visit www.knorrbeeswax.com or call 858-755-2051 for more information about the candle shop.