Come for the candles, keep for the cat
I walk into a cozy candle shop in the Pennsylvania capital area and am ready to ask the staff to bring up the subject of my story – but there is no need. Wicks, a tall gray tabby, is already lying on the floor in the middle of Keystone Candle’s busiest aisle in the middle of the store.
I shouldn’t be too flattered, as if Wicks knew Catster was coming and designed just for me. The gregarious cat who lived in the candle shop and factory in July, right after the famous Pumpkin cat died, just loves being around people and attracting the attention he gets from customers.
“This is what it does,” says Kristen Cowles, Keystone Candle Manager and daughter of founders Cathy and Jeff Brown. “If he’s alone in a room, he’ll cry … until he finds another person.”
Cat-loving customers who receive the warm greeting can pick up and carry wicks around while purchasing numerous types of candles, wax melts, and cute household decorations.
The Brown family, who own Keystone Candle and have worked in the Harrisburg area since 1977, adopted Wicks through a PetSmart rescue. The shelter estimated him to be about 8 years. Originally, the family thought they would adopt a pair of kittens and give them the candle names Wicks and
Wax, but God had another animal in mind for the store. Katie Brown, Kristen’s sister, couldn’t resist examining this cat that was asking for attention in a cage.
“As soon as my sister picked him up, he rubbed his face over her,” she says. “We fell in love with him.”
Katie promised to come back for the cat, and she did. Wicks is well settled in his house and he has an office with his supplies like cat beds and food. Visitors will often see him lounging in the hallways or jumping on the counter at the cash register. Wicks loves to explore the many cute candle displays, but luckily and surprisingly, he doesn’t upset things.
Wicks succeeds Pumpkin, Keystone Candle’s long-time cat who was loved by Keystone Candle from 2004 to 2020. Pumpkin died of kidney disease in July, and when customers heard his forecast, many came to say goodbye. In front of him was Bubba, a black and white stray dog adopted by the owners.
Pumpkin was popular but more reluctant, didn’t want to be picked up and didn’t like children, says Kristen. Wicks, on the other hand, love shoppers of all ages and love to be held on.
Sometimes customers almost forget they came there to shop because they are so into wicks. But that’s okay, says owner Cathy Brown. Candles and cats are her two passions.
“We want to sell things,” she says. “But they don’t notice that we love animals. We love him.”
Keystone Candle is heaven for those who love sweet smelling things, which the company ships to customers outside of town.
They have many types of candles including the standard jar, taper, and pillar candles, along with wax melts and the whimsical food line. In this appetizing collection of goodies, Keystone Candle makes realistic-looking cakes, large and small, muffins and parfaits, and cast iron pans filled with playful scents like gingerbread man and jack-o’-lantern.
I got a four-wick pecan cake that looks and smells exactly like the original. I could order more online, but I’ll do another road trip; Shopping won’t be complete without Wicks.
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