In May of 2022, we began the process of building out and renovating the existing store, Sand Castle Gifts and Gourmet in hopes of opening a sister store, Sanibel Candle Company on Sanibel Island. Sand Castle Gifts and Gourmet was getting ready to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary and then came Hurricane Ian in September 2022.
Sanibel Island and Captiva Island, Ft. Myers Beach and much of Southwest Florida were devastated by the hurricane. Rebuild and restoration began just days after Ian made landfall and as it made its way through the area. The community came together in support of one another as the cleanup and process to restore power to the island was in full swing.
We, like most businesses on the island, had to try to pick up what was left and move forward with hope that what was ahead was certainly going to be better. As we were just about 3 weeks from opening on Sanibel, with our renovations near completion on the shop, we had to hit restart with little to no certainty that we could go on with the business. If not for the support of the community and those that continued to support us, the future of the business was uncertain.
This area has shown resilience in a tough time and through time the community and the area around us will be back even better than before, that we are sure of!
Fast forward to January 2023.
We are opening the very first candle bar experience in Ft. Myers. A process that has taken much longer than expected is finally coming to an end, starting a new chapter as a store that we have poured so much into over the last few months as we prepared for the grand opening. As we approach our opening day and begin to have our guests visit from around the world, we are looking forward to providing you or anyone that visits the chance to experience something unique and hope to provide a memory that will last a lifetime.
The process began as we were in search of a shop to call home for Sanibel Candle Company, and that is when we found Bell Tower. The open air shopping space was a perfect landing spot for our store. It mixes the vibrance of the area with the beautiful Ft. Myers weather and sunshine, which really captures the feelings of visiting the area and that you will be able to mix into the candles you make when visiting our store.
From the crashing waves on Sanibel Island, to the sea breeze that hits your face on Captiva, or even the sweet smell of Key Lime pie that you might get in one of the beautiful eateries in Ft. Myers and the surrounding areas, our candles will allow you to bring home a little piece of your visit to the Ft. Myers area.
The moment that you enter Sanibel Candle Company, you will feel as if you are in a tropical paradise. The driftwood tones in the wood that line the wall, mixed with a more Bohemian industrial design, our shop will make you feel right at home and as if you were back on the island that this shop would have called home on Sanibel Island.
We wanted to bring some of the island with us, and while most of the store was destroyed in hurricane, we felt that we were able to capture that same island feel in our new store at Bell Tower. The shop alone will give you the feeling of being in the tropical paradise that can be found on the islands here in Southwest Florida.
The story of what you see at Sanibel Candle Company is fresh and new, but we thought we would let you in on a secret about two pieces of that you will notice when it comes to our store. Now, you might say it isn’t a secret if you are telling anyone and everyone that visits, and we agree, but we think it is a fun little fact that really speaks to the charm of the experience and store itself.
Hurricane Ian devastated the island we called home, destroying most of what we had in the shops on the island, and it completely washed away what we had built up to that point in September. However, the storm didn’t take it all. We had a few pieces left that we brought with us to the new location in Ft. Myers. You will see them when you come in for your candle making experience.
The first piece you will recognize is the piece by Ed Saternus. He is known as the Sanibel Photographer. It was simply a miracle that it made it through the storm, as you can see that the flood waters were just beneath where it hung on the wall. Just a few more inches and this could have been washed away with the rest of what remained of the shops at the time.
You will also notice the quartz countertop at the candle bar. This is the original countertop from the store that was near completion in Sanibel just before the storm hit the island. It serves as a way to remember the beauty of the island, all that we have worked for in getting the Sanibel Candle Company up and running after a tough few months following the hurricane, and we feel it represents the way that the community and this area have bounced back after devastation. Strong, supportive, and not easily broken no matter the force in which one tries.
The store is ready to welcome our guests now. The building out process was much longer than expected and the challenges that we, like most of the community, faced has made the grand opening feel so far off in the distance that opening Sanibel Candle Company doesn’t feel real.
We are sure that will change the minute we open our doors to welcome you all in. We look forward to sharing our journey with you all in the years to come and we truly could not have done this without the outpouring of support we received when things were so uncertain just months ago. We will see you soon!