Bell Tower shopping center in south Fort Myers has been getting some new life and some new light.
Sanibel Candle Co. is celebrating its grand opening Friday at Bell Tower, not far from Dave & Buster’s at 13499 S. Cleveland Ave., Unit 107.
The husband-and-wife team of Tom and Pam Stumph, transplanted from Charleston, South Carolina, bought Sand Castle Gifts & Gourmet on Sanibel Island last January. They renovated the 2,000-square-foot space, preparing to install a candle bar, similar to one called Palmetto Scent Studio they saw a few years ago in Charleston.
They had the candle bar ready to go for a mid-October 2022 grand opening, only to have Hurricane Ian wreak havoc on the store Sept. 28. The only items that survived were a quartz countertop and a metal-printed photograph of the Sanibel Lighthouse, both of which are in the Bell Tower location. “There are candle bars all over the country,” Tom Stumph said. “There just wasn’t one here.”
They sell ready-made candles with more than 60 scents, including a line of Sanibel-themed scents with names like Captiva Breeze, Tarpon Bay Moonlight, Sanibel Lighthouse and Sanibel Sea Shells.
Patrons also can register on Sanibel Candle Co.’s website for a candle-making experience. It takes about 45 minutes to make a candle, and the prices range from $22 to $40, depending on the type of candle vessel chosen.
Patrons can also bring their own alcoholic beverages and enlist the help of employees in creating their own scents.
“The fun part’s really making your own, custom scent,” Tom Stumph said. “Of course, you can just buy a candle.”
“We’re great for date nights, girls’ night out, fundraisers,” Pam Stumph said.Tom Stumph also created America’s Cuisine, a website and mobile app that first featured the restaurants of Charleston before he brought that concept to Sanibel and Captiva, Fort Myers and other cities across the country as well.
The Stumphs remain focused on the candle-making business.
“As soon as I saw a candle bar, my entrepreneurial brain started going,” Tom Stumph said. “This is pretty cool.”