Shoppers won't find the trendiest items at Candles in the Attic in Millville. People who want the hottest thing in home decor should go elsewhere.
But those in search of unique, handmade items either to give as gifts or decorate their own homes will find many options there. And that goes double if they like a rustic or country style.
Owner Elizabeth Bennett said she has been making her own crafts for decades. When she was working as a secretary in Millville, she would take small handmade hearts into the office, and her co-workers bought them up.
"I used to sit up until midnight doing those hearts," Bennett said. "They looked like pin cushions with ruffled lace around them."
Later, she created silk-flower arrangements and sold them at craft shows, Bennett said.
"When I was close to retirement, my husband, Joe, told me, ‘I'm going to buy you a store and you can do whatever you want,'" Bennett said.
The result is Candles in the Attic, which opened in 2003, she said. Joe Bennett helps out with maintenance, and other family members pitch in.
For most of the year, the shop is open only Fridays and Saturdays. Unless family matters intervene, Bennett said, she works seven days a week to keep the shop running. The store will be open Wednesday through Saturday starting Nov. 25.
"Nothing was given to me," she said. "I had to find everything out on my own."
Bennett's homemade candles are among the most popular items in the store. Tarts, which are melted down for their scent, also are big sellers. The aroma can last as long as four days, Bennett said.
Some of the tarts, which sell for 65 cents each, look so real that one might be tempted to eat them.
For baby showers, Bennett said, her "diaper cakes" are a hit. The three-tiered structures are 18 to 20 inches at the base, and the "cake" is made of disposable diapers, clothing for newborns and baby toys, "all kinds of things that a mother can use within the first year of having a child," Bennett said. They sell for $75, and can be done in pink, blue or a gender-neutral color.
"None of them ever look the same," Bennett said. "It's a small town. I don't want people having the same thing at their showers."
Other items for sale at Candles in the Attic include dolls and decorative pieces made by two local crafters, Bennett said. She also travels to Lancaster County, Pa., to find merchandise at a craft warehouse and to pick up Amish furniture.
She used to sell Chinese goods in the past, but this year, almost everything in the store is handmade in the United States, Bennett said. She does sell factory-made quilts, as the Amish spreads are beyond most customers' budgets.
For the holidays, Bennett said, she'll carry snowmen, gingerbread and a few Santa Clauses. The latter are not as popular as one might think, because people want their winter decor to last until spring, and Santa quickly wears out his timeliness.
"I'll have to have all the Christmas stuff for Black Friday," she said.
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