A few days later, Jackie texted me. Hey, what are you doing Saturday afternoon? Want to tour the candle kitchen with me? I was more excited about winning something vicariously through her than the actual tour but sure, why not? I like candles. And tunnels. And because Candle Queen Candles didn't participate in the charm hunt this year, it was one of the downtown stores I had not yet visited. After a morning of perusing the post-wide yard sale (where I accepted my Mom of the Year award for scoring a boatload of Hot Wheels cars for only $2.50), Jackie and I headed down to the shop at 500 Shawnee Street in downtown Leavenworth.
We arrived a few minutes early, so there was time to shop before the tour began. We may have planned it that way. The shop is stocked with beautiful clothing, hand-crafted jewelry, unique home decor and, of course, candles!
This shirt says "I may not be Wonderwoman, but I will do things that make you wonder." Fabulous.
The "melters" are Stacy's hottest sellers and the focus of our kitchen tour.
When we signed in at the counter for the tour, we were offered a free Candle Queen cup for "checking in" on the Facebook page.
Stacy called the group together and lead us into the first room, behind the scenes and, quite literally, behind the curtain. She explained that this was her prepping and packaging area, where flats of Mason jars are opened and readied for candles and products are boxed with bows, ready to ship. This part is a family affair and her kids are paid 50 cents per box of Mason jars to open and prep them. I'm fairly certain my son would much prefer this task to many of the things I ask him to do around the house!
The next room is usually for storage, Stacy explained, but it had been cleaned out and spruced up just for the kitchen tours that weekend (one on Saturday and one on Sunday). It was transformed into a tasting room, complete with dips from The Set Table (she was at the Spouse Super Sign-Up and her spices and dips can be found on Etsy with local pick-up) , as well as margaritas and fruit-infused water. Yes, I know...I had you at margaritas. Me too. Call me crazy but a little tequila makes everything better. But also...water. Because Kansas humidity is no joke.
Then Stacy brought us into the main hub of the production, where the wax is cooled and huge sheets of melters are cut and packaged. Mason jars filled with various oils were scattered around and one labeled Fabulouso caught someone's eye.
"YES!" Stacy confirmed. "The scent of Fabulouso!"
OK, this is what I get for being all crunchy granola and cleaning with a spray bottle of distilled vinegar. My house smells like...well...distilled vinegar. Apparently, it could smell like a field of lavender. But I had never heard of Fabulouso, which is a cleaning product used almost exclusively by pretty much everyone in Mexico. It has, therefore, become the unofficial smell of Mexico and evokes sun-soaked memories for anyone who has vacationed on their shores. But chances are, even if you have simply eaten in a Mexican restaurant around closing time, you've smelled this stuff. I really need to eat more Mexican food. Stacy now has an oil that smells exactly like Fabulouso and she'll be incorporating it into candles and melts sometime soon. So now, as Jackie pointed out, your house can smell clean, even when it's not actually clean. I'm claiming this as a win for moms everywhere.
One of the highlights of the kitchen tour was Stacy's offer to take home a baggie of melts for free. She had 4 trays of melts to choose from and, not wanting to be greedy since we had already finished off the margaritas, we only took a couple of cubes from each tray. But Stacy invited us to fill the bags. She really is the hostess with the mostess.
About Us tab on the website, but it's far more amusing to hear Stacy tell it!
With melts in our pockets and margaritas in our tummies, it was time to go underground.
There are Christmas lights and pastel-painted stairs. It can't be that scary, right?
Um...yeah...OK. Never mind. There are bodies in the basement...
Or...at least margarita-loving mannequins. That Jackie, such a giver.
Stacy has very limited history on the tunnel under her shop because, to be quite honest, there isn't much to be found about it. Originally built as a saloon in 1858, it has seen many changes over the years. And, to Stacy's credit, much of that history can still be found in the rooms that jut off to the left of the main walkway. A newspaper dating back to 1912 is still stapled to one wall and a few wood planks from the Chase Candy Company in St. Joseph, MO can be found in the main passageway.here.
Ultimately, the question had to be asked...is your tunnel haunted? No, Stacy quickly answered. But...there's always a but. The Plainspirits film crew had brought 4 cameras with them. When they entered one of the rooms, all 4 camera batteries died simultaneously. According to the crew, that had never happened. OMG, which room? As Stacy showed us in, we heard the distinctive beep-beep of a cell phone dying. So, that can't be a coincidence, right? Whose cell phone dies at 2 PM?
And then there was the mannequin room. Stacy has had several people approach her about purchasing the mannequins but she refuses to part with them. I agree. When you start moving bodies, you just never know what you are going to find.
I know...creeeeepy. Not enough margaritas in the world to make this not creepy.
We paused for one more picture with the gatekeeper before heading back up.
That lady's American flag t-shirt reads "United We Sip" and the stars are tiny wine glasses. I think that might be the best thing I've ever seen.
Back up top, we said good-bye to Stacy and thanked her for her time and her hospitality. And then we shopped.
Jackie got a deep whiff of Butt-Naked...
...and confessed that it actually smells AMAZING.
Stacy doesn't offer tours of the kitchen and tunnel very often simply because she is so busy working, but she has started doing more as she loves the interaction with the community. To encourage that interaction, she is in the planning stages of several events, including a Beauty Bar with Jessica Parish (a cosmetologist on staff at Candle Queen Candles and a graduate in the top of her class at the Paul Mitchell School). More details on this event to come soon, but if the kitchen tour is any indication, every detail will be perfect and you will get so much more than you expect!
Stacy also hosts the annual Candle Queen's Romp 5K in April, which benefits area charities chosen by Candle Queen Candles Facebook fans. In 2014, Candle Queen Candles presented a check for $10,000 to The Farmer's House in Weston. Tiaras, tutus, terrific cause!
If you go:
*Plenty of on-street parking
*For shopping and the tour, Stacy is certainly a kid-friendly kind of gal, but you will have more fun if your child is a girl over the age of...8? Or it's Mommy Time with your girlfriends. I love my toddler but for 2 hours, I didn't miss him at all.
*Check-in on Facebook, get cool free cup.
*Ask Stacy about the leather shavings in the tunnel.
*Shop for a Pandora charm or 2 from their Pandora counter in the corner of the store.
*Take home some Butt-Naked. You won't be sorry.
Have you been to Candle Queen Candles? What did you think? Have you been on a kitchen/tunnel tour? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments! I approve them daily.